The Council of Europe Adopts New Regulation on Batteries and Waste Batteries
On Monday, 10 July 2023, the Council of the European Union adopted a new regulation that strengthens sustainability rules for batteries and waste batteries. This regulation covers the entire life cycle of batteries, ensuring their safety, sustainability and competitiveness from production to reuse and recycling.
Recognising the vital role batteries play in the decarbonisation process and the transition towards zero-emission mobility, Teresa Ribera, Spanish Minister for the Ecological Transition reinforced the Presidency’s commitment to supporting comprehensive regulation encompassing all types of batteries. This includes waste portable batteries, electric vehicle batteries, industrial batteries, starting, lightning and ignition (SLI) batteries primarily used in vehicles and machinery, as well as batteries for light means of transport like electric bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters.
“At the same time end-of-life batteries contain many valuable resources and we must be able to reuse those critical raw materials instead of relying on third countries for supplies. The new rules will promote the competitiveness of European industry and ensure new batteries are sustainable and contribute to the green transition.”
| Teresa Ribera, Spanish Minister for the Ecological Transition
To foster a circular economy, the regulation establishes requirements for the end-of-life phase, including collection targets and obligations, material recovery targets, and extended producer responsibility. Dedicated collection objectives for waste batteries used in light means of transport will be implemented, aiming at 51% by the end of 2028, respectively 61% by the end of 2031. Furthermore, the regulation sets mandatory minimum levels of recycled content for industrial batteries, SLI batteries and electric vehicle batteries. The following initial values have been established:
- 16% for cobalt
- 85% for lead
- 6% for lithium
- 6% for nickel
Additionally, batteries will also be required to hold documentation proving their recycled content.
To improve the functioning of the internal market for batteries and ensure fair competition, the regulation introduces safety, sustainability, and labelling requirements. It includes provisions for battery labelling and information disclosure, including details on battery components and recycled content. Additionally, an electronic “battery passport” and a QR code will be implemented to enhance traceability and transparency. These labelling requirements will take effect by 2026, while the QR code implementation is expected by 2027, providing member states and manufacturers with ample time to prepare.
This new regulation aims to mitigate environmental and social impacts throughout the battery’s life cycle. By establishing strict due diligence rules for operators, the EU is ensuring operators are bound to verify the source of raw materials used for batteries placed on the market. However, the regulation provides for an exemption for SMEs from the due diligence rules.
After its signature by the Council and the European parliament, the new regulation will be published in the EU’s Official Journal, expecting to enter into force 20 days after.
RHINOCEROS project in the current legislative framework
Launched in 2022, the RHINOCEROS project fits within the current framework recently adopted by the Council of Europe under the Spanish Presidency. Designed to support the raw materials supply, the RHINOCEROS project will demonstrate a smart sorting and dismantling robot at TRL6, enabling the automation of a battery repurposing production line. When direct reuse and repurposing of batteries is not possible, RHINOCEROS will investigate several ground-breaking circular recycling routes aiming at the recovery of all materials present in LIBs (e.g., metals, graphite, fluorinated compounds, electrolytes, polymers, and active materials).
A first set of conclusions stemming from the research of our partners generated a database and the parameters for module selection, which will further facilitate the development of electric vehicles 2nd life batteries.
The infographic can be accessed on the Council of the European Union’s website using this link.