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CEE countries vote though green battery rules

| 2023-07-10 3 min read

CEE countries vote though green battery rules

Reading Time: 3 minutes

EU members agreed to tighten sustainability regulations for batteries, with an almost unanimous vote at the Council of the EU, on Monday 10 July.

The Council tweeted that it “has adopted today new rules that will, for the first time ever, cover the whole lifecycle of batteries. The goal is to make batteries sustainable while keeping the sector competitive.”

After the European Parliament approved the new rules last month, the Council decision was the last major milestone before the regulation can enter into force.

Only Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries Bulgaria and Slovenia abstained from voting on the regulation, with 15 member states’ votes constituting a quorum, according to the Council’s website.

The regulation will regulate the entire life cycle of cells and batteries from production to reuse and recycling, to ensure they are safe, sustainable and competitive.

Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister responsible for the ecological transition, said “Batteries are key elements of the decarbonization process and the EU’s transition to emission-free modes of transport… The new rules will promote the competitiveness of European industry and ensure that new cells and batteries are sustainable and contribute to the green transition.”

The regulation will apply to all batteries and accumulators, including discarded portable batteries and accumulators, electric vehicle batteries, industrial batteries and accumulators, and SLI batteries used for lighting, ignition, and light vehicles.

New regulations span whole lifecycle of batteries

The objective of the new regulations is to advance the circular economy by comprehensively regulating the entire life cycle of batteries. This includes establishing end-of-life requirements such as collection targets, material recovery targets, and extended producer responsibility.

The regulations specify target values for manufacturers concerning the collection of waste portable batteries and batteries. These targets are set at 63% by the end of 2027 and 73% by the end of 2030. Additionally, separate collection objectives are introduced for waste batteries used in light transport vehicles, with targets of 51% by the end of 2028 and 61% by the end of 2031.

The new stipulations also set target values for the utilization of lithium from waste cells and batteries at 50% by the end of 2027 and 80% by the end of 2031. However, these may be adjusted based on market and technological developments, and the availability of lithium.

Minimum levels of recycled content are mandated for different types of batteries, initially at 16% for cobalt, 85% for lead, 6% for lithium, and 6% for nickel. The regulations also require batteries and accumulators to have documentation regarding the recycled content.

To promote recycling, the regulations set a target of 80% recycling efficiency for nickel-cadmium batteries by the end of 2025 and 50% recycling efficiency for other waste cells and batteries by the same deadline.

By 2027, portable devices must have removable and replaceable batteries for end users. This provision allows consumers to easily replace batteries. Similarly, batteries used in light transport vehicles will need to be replaceable by independent specialists.

Council statement underlines competitivity, sustainability

The Council wrote in a statement that “Currently there is a high environmental footprint in the production of a battery. Many new raw materials are sourced to produce batteries, and waste batteries contain hazardous substances that can harm the environment.

It added that “the Council and the European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on new rules which will make the life cycle of batteries more sustainable. The rules will also ensure that all economic operators are subject to the same rules, which will create a level playing field and give the EU competitive edge on the global markets.”

The Council explained that the new regulations aim “to create a circular economy for the batteries sector by targeting all stages of the life cycle of batteries, from design to waste treatment… demand for batteries is expected to grow by more than tenfold by 2030,” it added.