The European Battery Regulation
The implementation of the European Battery Regulation marks a significant step in the European Union’s commitment to decarbonization and the adoption of zero-emission transportation modes.
With the growing importance of batteries in the green transition, the EU aims to create a circular economy for the battery sector, addressing every stage of a battery’s lifecycle. This initiative is particularly crucial, given the anticipated ten-fold increase in battery demand by 2030. By replacing the 2006 batteries directive and enhancing waste management legislation, the regulation sets a new standard for sustainability, safety, and end-of-life management of batteries on a global scale.
What is the EU Battery Regulation?
The European Battery Regulation, passed by the European Parliament and the Council in August 2023, applies to all economic operators involved in the EU battery market. This includes manufacturers, producers, importers, and distributors, covering a broad range of batteries. The regulation encompasses waste portable batteries, electric vehicle (EV) batteries, industrial batteries, starting, lighting, and ignition (SLI) batteries, and batteries for light means of transport (LMT), such as electric bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters.
Under these regulations, EV batteries, LMT batteries, and rechargeable industrial batteries exceeding two kWh must carry a “clearly legible and indelible” carbon footprint declaration and label, detailing key information like recycled cobalt, lead, lithium, and nickel content. Economic operators must also adopt and communicate due diligence policies for critical raw materials supply, following international standards such as the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Additionally, the introduction of a digital battery passport for certain batteries enhances traceability, providing data on the battery model, specific usage, and more. All batteries, regardless of type, must carry labels and QR codes indicating capacity, performance, durability, chemical composition, and the “separate collection” symbol. Notably, the “CE” mark is now required for all batteries to demonstrate conformity with EU health, safety, and environmental standards, with labeling affixed directly on the device rather than the battery itself.
The regulation’s core objective is to foster a circular economy in the battery industry by imposing comprehensive requirements throughout the battery lifecycle. This includes collection targets, material recovery goals, and extended producer responsibility.
Producers are mandated to meet collection targets for waste portable batteries (63% by 2027, 73% by 2030) and have a dedicated collection objective for waste LMT batteries (51% by 2028, 61% by 2031). Moreover, the regulation sets ambitious targets for lithium recovery from waste batteries (50% by 2027, 80% by 2031), with potential adjustments based on market and technological developments.
Minimum recycled content levels are established for industrial, SLI, and EV batteries (initially 16% for cobalt, 85% for lead, 6% for lithium, and 6% for nickel), supported by mandatory recycled content documentation. Recycling efficiency targets are set at 80% for nickel-cadmium batteries by 2025 and 50% for other waste batteries by 2025.
The regulation also ensures that, by 2027, portable batteries incorporated into appliances should be removable and replaceable by end-users, benefiting consumers. LMT batteries must be replaceable by independent professionals.
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EU Battery Regulation Timeline and Status
The European Battery Regulation is scheduled to take effect on 17 August 2023, with enforcement commencing from 18 February 2024. It features a phased approach to rule implementation:
- August 2024:
- Economic operators, aside from due diligence policies and end-of-life management, will begin complying with their obligations.
- Conformity assessment procedures for batteries, with exceptions, start applying.
- August 2025:
- Rules pertaining to end-of-life battery management must be adhered to.
- Penalties for violations are to be established by Member States, aiming for effectiveness, proportionality, and deterrence.
- January 2026: Labeling and information requirements will be applicable, with QR code implementation deferred until 2027.
- February 2027: Companies must ensure removability and replaceability of portable and LMT batteries.
By 31 December 2030, the Commission will assess the feasibility of extending carbon footprint declaration requirements to portable batteries and implementing a maximum life cycle carbon footprint threshold for rechargeable industrial batteries with a capacity of two kWh or less.
How to prepare for the EU Battery Regulation
To prepare for compliance with the European Battery Regulation, companies in the battery industry should take several key steps.
Firstly, it’s essential to thoroughly understand the regulation’s specific requirements and deadlines. This means investing time in comprehending the nuances of the regulation as it relates to your particular role and scope within the battery market.
Simultaneously, a comprehensive assessment of current operations is necessary. This involves a detailed evaluation of existing battery products, manufacturing processes, and supply chains. The aim is to identify areas that require adjustments and modifications to align with the regulation’s rigorous standards.
In parallel, companies must establish due diligence policies for the sourcing of critical raw materials, including cobalt, graphite, lithium, nickel, and others. These policies should conform to internationally recognized standards such as the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Ensuring transparency and responsibility within the supply chain is not only a regulatory requirement but also integral to sustainable business practices.
By proactively addressing these aspects, companies can position themselves for successful compliance with the European Battery Regulation. This not only ensures adherence to regulatory obligations but also aligns with broader sustainability objectives, contributing to a more environmentally responsible and circular battery industry in line with the EU’s green transition objectives.