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The Commission proposed a new Batteries Regulation (with Annexes) on 10 December 2021. This Regulation aims to ensure that batteries placed in the EU market are sustainable and safe throughout their entire life cycle.
Press release: Green Deal: Sustainable batteries for a circular and climate neutral economySearch for available translations of the preceding link•••.
Batteries and accumulators play an essential role to ensure that many daily-used products, appliances and services work properly, constituting an indispensable energy source in our society. Every year, approximately 700.000 tons of automotive batteries, 195.000 tons of industrial batteries, and 161.000 tons of consumer batteries enter the European Union.
Not all these batteries are properly collected and recycled at the end of their life, which increases the risk of releasing hazardous substances and constitutes a waste of resources. Many of the components of these batteries and accumulators could be recycled, avoiding the release of hazardous substances to the environment and, in addition, providing valuable materials to important products and production processes in Europe.
The EU legislation on waste batteries is embodied in the Batteries Directive Search for available translations of the preceding link•••. It intends to contribute to the protection, preservation and improvement of the quality of the environment by minimising the negative impact of batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators. It also ensures the smooth functioning of the internal market by harmonising requirements as regards the placing on the market of batteries and accumulators. With some exceptions, it applies to all batteries and accumulators, no matter their chemical nature, size or design.
To achieve these objectives, the Directive prohibits the marketing of batteries containing some hazardous substances, defines measures to establish schemes aiming at high level of collection and recycling, and fixes targets for collection and recycling activities. The Directive also sets out provisions on labelling of batteries and their memorability from equipment.
It also aims to improve the environmental performance of all operators involved in the life cycle of batteries and accumulators, producers, distributors and end-users and, in particular, those operators directly involved in the treatment and recycling of waste batteries and accumulators. Producers of batteries and accumulators and producers of other products incorporating a battery or accumulator are given responsibility for the waste management of batteries and accumulators that they place on the market.
The Batteries Directive was adopted in 2006 and has been subject to a number of revisions. Last amendments were incorporated in 2013. The consolidated version of the Directive is presented below
The Batteries Director requires that the European Committee assisted by Member States, develops in detail some of its provisions on, labelling or reporting. The Decisions and Regulations adopted in this context listed below,
Evaluation of the EU Directive 2005/66/EC on batteries and accumulators (the Batteries Directive)
The Committee has completed the evaluation of the Batteries Directive, the only piece of EU legislation entirely dedicated to batteries. The evaluation report of the Batteries Directive has been published.
The results of the evaluation have been used to prepare the Committee report on the implementation and on the impact on the environment and the functioning of the internal market of the Batteries Directive.
The evaluation is part of a process that could lead to the directive’s revision. It has taken account of the increased use of batteries, due to the diversification of communication technologies or the growing demand for renewable energies. The initiative for the Battery Network that aims to ensure a whole value chain for the manufacturing of advanced cells and batteries within the EU is also part of the new policy context.
While the evaluation has adopted a broad perspective, some points have received particular attention, namely the management of hazardous substances in batteries, the collection, and recycling of waste batteries or the directive’s capability to keep pace with technological change. Enabling measures, like those on labelling and information, have also been looked at.
The evaluation concludes that the directive has delivered positive results in terms of a better environment, the promotion of recycling and better functioning of the internal market for batteries and recycled materials.
Observed limitations in some legal provisions or their implementation prevent the directive from fully delivering on its objectives. This is particularly true as regards the collection of waste batteries or the efficiency in the recovery of materials.
The evaluation has pointed out how the absence of a mechanism to incorporate technological novelties and new usages makes it difficult to ensure that the directive keeps pace with technological developments.
The evaluation has been carried out following the Better Regulation Guidelines of the European Committee. The process has involved significant participation of stakeholders, which were consulted or invited to submit their ideas and views and provide information. A public consultation has been held since the 6 September 2017 until the 28 November 2017. Representatives of the Member States and stakeholders participated in a meeting of the Expert Group on Waste (Batteries), the 14 of March 2018, where the initial findings of the Study in Support of the Evaluation were presented.
For the implementation of the Batteries Directive, the European Commission is assisted by a Committee, composed by representatives designated by Member States. The list below gives access to the minutes of the meeting of the Committee.
Disclaimer: Please note that studies carried out for the European Commission contain the results of research by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the EU Commission.
Today, the European Commission proposes to modernize EU legislation on batteries, delivering its first initiative among the actions announced in the new Circular Economy Action Plan. Batteries that are more sustainable throughout their life cycle are key for the goals of the European Green Deal and contribute to the zero pollution ambition set in it. They promote competitive sustainability and are necessary for green transport, clean energy and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The proposal addresses the social, economic and environmental issues related to all types of batteries.
Batteries placed on the EU market should become sustainable, high-performing and safe all along their entire life cycle. This means batteries that are produced with the lowest possible environmental impact, using materials obtained in full respect of human rights as well as social and ecological standards. Batteries have to be long-lasting and safe, and at the end of their life, they should be repurposed, remanufactured or recycled, feeding valuable materials back into the economy.
The Commission proposes mandatory requirements for all batteries (i.e. industrial, automotive, electric vehicle and portable) placed on the EU market. Requirements such as use of responsibly sourced materials with restricted use of hazardous substances, minimum content of recycled materials, carbon footprint, performance and durability and labelling, as well as meeting collection and recycling targets, are essential for the development of more sustainable and competitive battery industry across Europe and around the world.
Providing legal certainty will additionally help unlock large-scale investments and boost the production capacity for innovative and sustainable batteries in Europe and beyond to respond to the fast-growing market.
The measures that the Commission proposes will facilitate achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Better and more performant batteries will make a key contribution to the electrification of road transport, which will significantly reduce its emissions, increase the uptake of electric vehicles and facilitate a higher share of renewable sources in the EU energy mix.
With this proposal, the Commission also aims to boost the circular economy of the battery value chains and promote more efficient use of resources with the aim of minimising the environmental impact of batteries. From 1 July 2024, only rechargeable industrial and electric vehicles batteries for which a carbon footprint declaration has been established, can be placed on the market.
To close the loop and maintain valuable materials used in batteries for as long as possible in the European economy, the Commission proposes to establish new requirements and targets on the content of recycled materials and collection, treatment and recycling of batteries at the end-of-life part. This would make sure that industrial, automotive or electric vehicle batteries are not lost to the economy after their useful service life.
To significantly improve the collection and recycling of portable batteries, the current figure of 45% collection rate should rise to 65 % in 2025 and 70% in 2030 so that the materials of batteries we use at home are not lost for the economy. Other batteries – industrial, automotive or electric vehicle ones – have to be collected in full. All collected batteries have to be recycled and high levels of recovery have to be achieved, in particular of valuable materials such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and lead.
The proposed regulation defines a framework that will facilitate the repurposing of batteries from electric vehicles so that they can have a second life, for example as stationary energy storage systems, or integration into electricity grids as energy resources.
The use of new IT technologies, notably the Battery Passport and interlinked data space will be key for safe data sharing, increasing transparency of the battery market and the traceability of large batteries throughout their life cycle. It will enable manufacturers to develop innovative products and services as part of the twin green and digital transition.
With its new battery sustainability standards, the Commission will also promote globally the green transition and establish a blueprint for further initiatives under its sustainable product policy.
Exec. Vice-President for the said: “Clean energy is the key to European Green Deal, but our increasing reliance on batteries in, for example, transport should not harm the environment. The new batteries regulation will help reduce the environmental and social impact of all batteries throughout their life cycle. Today’s proposal allows the EU to scale up the use and production of batteries in a safe, circular and healthy way”.
Com. for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries said:”With this innovative EU proposal on sustainable batteries we are giving the first big push to the circular economy under our new Circular Economy Action Plan. Batteries are essential for crucial sectors of our economy and society such as mobility, energy and communications. This future-oriented legislative toolbox will upgrade the sustainability of batteries in each phase of their lifecycle. Batteries are full of valuable materials and we want to ensure that no battery is lost to waste. The sustainability of batteries has to grow hand in hand with their increasing numbers on the EU market.”
Vice-Pre.sident for Interinstitutional Relations said: “The Commission puts forward a new future-proof regulatory framework on batteries to ensure that only the greenest, best performing and safest batteries make it onto the EU market. This ambitious framework on transparent and ethical sourcing of raw materials, carbon-footprint of batteries, and recycling is an essential element to achieve open strategic autonomy in this critical sector and accelerate our work under the European Battery Alliance.”
Commission for Internal Market said: “Europe needs to increase its strategic capacity in new and enabling technologies, such as batteries, that are essential for our industrial competitiveness and to fulfil our green ambitions. With investment and the right policy incentives – including today’s proposal for a new regulatory framework – we are helping establish the full batteries value chain in the EU: from raw materials and chemicals via electric mobility all the way to recycling.”
Since 2005, batteries and old batteries have been regulated at EU level under the Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC). A modernization of the framework is necessary because of changed socioeconomic conditions, technological developments, markets, and battery uses.
Demand for batteries is increasing rapidly and is set to increase 15-fold by 2030. This is mostly driven by electric transport, making this market an increasingly strategic one at the global level. Such global exponential growth in demand for batteries will lead to an equivalent increase in demand for raw materials, hence the need to minimize their environmental impact.