Present preliminary political agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council strives to formulate rules to support all three directions, which would pave the way to new directions in corporate activities too. When finally accepted, the new rules will be introduced gradually starting from 2024…
New EU actions are driven by a triple idea: to increase batteries production, promote further batteries employment and, mainly, to assist the states in more sustainable use and easy recycle.
More widespread uptake of electric vehicles will reduce GHG emissions and other noxious emissions from road transport inn Europe. For example in the EU-27, a strong increase in the electrification of passenger cars, vans, buses and – to a lesser extent, trucks – is expected to take place by 2030. This is mainly being driven by EU legislation setting CO2 emission standards for vehicle manufacturers, but also by EU legislation setting the states’ minimum targets for public procurement of clean vehicles. The electrification of some residential services, like energy storage and/or heating, will also help to further reduce emissions. According to estimates from the World Economic Forum, there is a need to scale up twenty (!) times global battery production to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
More in: World Economic Forum and Global Batteries Alliance (2019). A vision for a sustainable battery value chain in 2030: unlocking the potential to power sustainable development and climate change mitigation.
Also in the proposal for a 2019 regulation (applicable from January 2022): https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52020PC0798
The “batteries’ history” dates back to the end of last century, but mainly to 2006, with the ever first EU-wide batteries’ directive, which acknowledged the notion of harmonizing member states’ measures concerning use and production of batteries, accumulators as well as increasing adequate recycling measures. The directive’s primary objective was to minimise negative impact of batteries and accumulators on nature and human environment.
Besides, a previous directive from 1991 also prohibited placing on the market of certain batteries and accumulators containing mercury or cadmium, as well as envisaged promotion of sufficient level of collection and recycling of waste batteries and accumulators.
Already after four years of 2006-directive’s function, the Commission proposed to revise it; thus, in December 2020 a revision was adopted (repealing 2006 directive and amending a later regulation from 2019), again in the form of a regulation, reflecting new socio-economic conditions in markets and technological developments in batteries’ use and recycling.
At the end of 2019 came a new set of rules called “green deal” bringing forward both the circular economy and zero pollution ideas among the EU states, making batteries sustainable throughout their entire lifecycle: i.e. from the sourcing of materials to their collection, recycling and repurposing.
In the current energy context, the new rules establish an essential framework to foster further development of a competitive sustainable battery industry, which will support Europe’s clean energy transition and independence from fuel imports. Batteries are also a key technology that plays a central role in advancing EU’s climate neutrality by 2050.
See factsheets at: https://commission.europa.eu/publications/factsheets-european-green-deal_en
Demand for batteries is increasing rapidly and is set to increase 14-fold by 2030, and the EU could account for 17% of that demand, the process which is mainly driven by the electrification of transport. Such exponential growth in demand for batteries will lead to an equivalent increase in demand for raw materials, hence the need to minimise their environmental impact.
Already in 2017, the Commission launched the European Battery Alliance to build an innovative, sustainable and globally competitive battery value chain in Europe, and ensure supply of batteries needed for decarbonising the transport and energy sectors.
New rules: production and recycling of batteries
Once the new law enters into force, sustainability requirements on carbon footprint, recycled content and performance and durability will be introduced gradually beginning from 2024.
A more comprehensive regulatory framework on Extended Producer Responsibility will start applying by mid-2025, with higher collection targets being introduced over time.
For portable batteries the targets will be 63% in 2027 and 73% in 2030, while for batteries from light means of transport, the target will be 51% in 2028 and 61% in 2031.
All collected batteries have to be recycled and high levels of recovery have to be achieved, in particular of valuable materials such as copper, cobalt, lithium, nickel and lead.
These changes will guarantee that valuable materials are recovered at the end of their useful life and brought back in the economy by adopting stricter targets for recycling efficiency and material recovery over time. For example, material recovery targets for lithium will be 50% by 2027 and 80% by 2031.
Companies placing batteries on the EU internal market will have to demonstrate that the materials used for their manufacturing were sourced responsibly. This means that social and environmental risks associated with the extraction, processing and trading of the raw materials used for the battery manufacturing will have to be identified and mitigated.