On December 10, the European Commission published legislative proposals aimed at creating a legal framework on the sustainability, traceability and circularity of battery production throughout its life cycle.
The proposal comes as the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) accelerates in European countries and provides legal certainty for battery investments in Europe.
This is in line with the European Green Deal’s commitment to make the European economy sustainable, circular and carbon neutral by 2050, as well as the vision of the strategic role that all rechargeable batteries will play as the European Union move to a greener economy.
According to the EC forecast, global demand for batteries is expected to increase 14-fold by 2030 and the EU could account for around 17% of this global demand.
Among the objectives of the regulation, the EC proposes that from July 1, 2024, only industrial and EV rechargeable batteries for which a carbon footprint statement has been made will enter the EU market.
The measures, once approved, will replace the existing EU Battery Directive and will be legally binding and adopted at EU level. It will be applied to all batteries entering the EU market, regardless of their origin.
Several new elements of the proposed legislation rely on computer technologies, mainly with regard to labeling and traceability of batteries.
Battery end-of-life management
Particular emphasis in the EC proposal concerns the establishment of new requirements on the content of recycled battery materials and their collection. A framework will be established which will allow batteries to be reused, reconditioned or recycled once they reach the end of their useful life in order to maintain the valuable materials used in their production in the European economy.
Lithium, cobalt and nickel are the main raw materials used in batteries that power electric vehicles, energy storage systems and portable electronics.
There has been more scrutiny recently on the sustainability of extracting these raw materials for batteries and many EV manufacturers have already started demanding sustainability in their supply chains.
Fastmarkets reported in November that German automaker Mercedes-Benz announced it would switch to sourcing cobalt and lithium for electric vehicle batteries only from certified mines in order to reduce the environmental and social impact of its supply chains.
“Clean energy is the key to the European Green Deal, but our increasing dependence on batteries, for example in transport, should not harm the environment. The new battery regulation will help reduce the environmental and social impact of all batteries throughout their lifecycle. Today’s proposal allows the EU to increase the use and production of batteries in a safe, circular and healthy way, ”said Executive Vice President of the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans.