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Green Deal: Sustainable batteries

On 10 December 2020, the European Commission proposed a revision and modernisation of the current 2006 EU legislation on batteries. The initiative was already announced in the Circular Economy Action Plan adopted in March 2020. The Commission sees sustainable batteries as key to the goals of the European Green Deal and the zero-pollution target as stated therein. They are needed to achieve or guarantee competitive sustainability, clean transport, clean energy, and the achievement of climate neutrality by 2050. The proposal addresses the social, economic, and environmental issues related to all types of batteries. The overarching objective is to ensure that batteries placed on the EU market are sustainable, efficient and safe throughout their life cycle. This means that batteries are produced with the lowest possible environmental impact and use materials that are extracted in full respect of human rights and social and environmental standards. Batteries must be durable and safe, and at the end of their life they should be reused, remanufactured or recycled, returning valuable materials to the economy.

The Commission proposes mandatory requirements for all batteries (i.e. industrial, automotive, electric vehicle and portable) placed on the market in the EU. Requirements such as the use of responsibly sourced materials with limited use of hazardous substances, minimum recycled content, carbon footprint, performance, durability, and labelling, as well as meeting collection and recycling targets, are essential for the development of a more sustainable and competitive battery industry in Europe and across the globe. Legal certainty will also be established to secure widespread investment to increase production capacity.

From 1 July 2024, only rechargeable industrial and traction batteries for which a carbon footprint declaration has been made may be placed on the market. To close the loop and keep valuable materials used in batteries in the European economy for as long as possible, the Commission proposes to set new requirements and targets for the content of recycled materials and the collection, treatment, and recycling of batteries at the end of their life. This would ensure that industrial, automotive, or electric vehicle batteries are not lost to the economy after their useful life. From 2027, there will be a requirement to disclose the proportion of recycled raw materials in these batteries, followed by requirements to use a minimum proportion of recycled cobalt, lithium, nickel, and lead starting from 2030. To significantly improve the collection and recycling of portable batteries, the current collection rate of 45 per cent should increase to 65 per cent in 2025 and 70 per cent in 2030, so that the materials in the batteries we use at home are not lost to the economy. Other batteries - industrial, automotive, or electric vehicle batteries - must be fully collected. All collected batteries must be recycled and high recovery rates must be achieved, especially for valuable materials such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and lead.

The proposed regulation establishes a framework to facilitate the reuse of batteries from electric vehicles, e.g., as stationary energy storage systems or integration into electricity grids as energy resources. The Commission is also pushing the use of new IT technologies, in particular the battery passport and the networked data room, to promote secure data exchange, greater transparency of the battery market and traceability of large batteries.

The proposal will now go through the ordinary legislative process in Parliament and Council.


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