EC proposes modernizing EU legislation on batteries to enhance sustainability and safety
12 December 2020
The European Commission is proposing modernizing EU legislation on batteries; this would be the first initiative delivered 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.
The proposed new Regulation suggests mandatory requirements on:
Sustainability and safety (such as carbon footprint rules, minimum recycled content, performance and durability criteria, safety parameters);
Labelling and information (such as storing of information on sustainability and data on state of health and expected lifetime);
End-of-life management (such as extended producer responsibility, collection targets and obligations, targets for recycling efficiencies and levels of recovered materials);
Obligations of economic operators linked to product requirements and due diligence schemes; and
Electronic exchange of information.
In addition, the proposal contains provisions on mandatory green public procurement, on facilitating the enforcement of product rules, namely rules on conformity assessment, notification of conformity assessment bodies, market surveillance and economic instruments.
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, the EC said.
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 minimizing 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.
From 1 January 2026, those batteries will have to bear a carbon intensity performance class label.
From 1 July 2027, they shall comply with maximum carbon footprint thresholds.
As of 1 January 2027, industrial and electric-vehicle batteries with internal storage will have to declare the content of recycled cobalt, lead, lithium and nickel contained therein.
From 1 January 2030, these batteries will have to contain minimum levels of recycled content (12% cobalt; 85% lead, 4% lithium and 4% nickel).
From 1 January 2035, these levels would be further increased (20% cobalt, 10% lithium and 12% nickel).
To improve significantly 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.
Background. Since 2006, batteries and waste batteries have been regulated at EU level under the Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC). Demand for batteries is increasing rapidly and is set to increase 14 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.