Europe: New rules on battery recycling

New rules will apply to battery recycling and treatment in European Union (EU) countries where they agreed on Thursday on a common position to negotiate with the European Parliament the new EU regulation on the battery life cycle.

“The new rules will promote the competitiveness of European industry and production chains and make more batteries available for our shift to zero-emission modes of transport,” said French Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili, whose country currently holds the presidency of the Council of the EU.

The Council’s position, close to the European Commission’s initial proposal in December 2020 to update a 2006 regulation, extends the scope of the regulation “to prefabricated battery modules and all electric vehicle batteries”, including light devices such as skateboards.

It maintains the “battery passport” so that the consumer has better information about the product and “strict” restrictions on hazardous substances and requires traceability of cells and batteries to reduce the carbon footprint, with due diligence requirements in supply chains.

In addition, it extends producer responsibility and introduces the obligation for new batteries to contain recycled materials.

New rules on battery

Parliament, which adopted its position a week ago by 584 votes in favour, 67 against and 40 abstentions, is proposing stricter requirements in terms of sustainability, performance and labelling and demanding that cells and batteries have a label that reflects the carbon footprint, other points, such as minimum levels of cobalt recovery, lead, lithium and nickel for reuse.

The new regulation on cells and batteries, once closed, will also serve as a model for other sectors in which regulations covering the entire life cycle of a product are also being sought, from its conception to treatment as waste, for example in the textile industry.

The environmental platform Transport & Environnement, however, embarrassed EU countries that chose to “delay the introduction of recycling targets for batteries that are already weak” by asking manufacturers to recover “only 35% of all used lithium batteries for implementation in 2029, three years later than the Commission proposed”.

This NGO demands that by 2026 the recovery rate of this mineral from products be increased to 70% and recalls that lithium prices have increased by 75% between January 2021 and January 2022.


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