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Battery seminar: the obligations of the EU’s new Battery Regulation will be further clarified in the coming years

The national implementation of the new Battery Regulation requires adjustments and changes, including revisions to waste legislation. The role of producer responsibility will be strengthened, but interpretations and guidelines from the Commission are still expected for several aspects of the regulation.

Photos Sus+Com Agency / Antti Partanen.

The EU’s new Battery Regulation takes into account the entire lifecycle of batteries and responsibility more comprehensively. The regulation aims to guide product development and manufacturing, as well as market entry, recycling, and waste management more extensively.

The Battery Regulation replaces the Battery Directive issued in 2006. The requirements concerning the entire lifecycles of batteries will now be uniform throughout the EU, and the key links to product design, the role of the end-user, and the promotion of the recycled raw material market that were previously missing from the regulations will be introduced. In the regulation, the producers’ responsibility is extended, and more ambitious collection and recycling goals are set.

The content of the regulation that came into effect in August was discussed at the Battery Producer Organisations anniversary seminar at Heureka in September 2023.

During their presentations at the battery seminar, Jouni Nissinen, special advisor at the Ministry of the Environment, and Jaana Mäenpää, producer responsibility supervisor for batteries at the Pirkanmaa ELY-keskus (Pirkanmaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment), reminded the audience that although the regulation is being implemented as it is, it will also bring clarifications to national legislation.

To facilitate the implementation of the Battery Regulation, a multidisciplinary government working group has been established in Finland, with Nissinen serving as its chairperson. The working group coordinates consultations with relevant stakeholders, and communicates and disseminates information as the implementation of the battery regulation progresses.

Increase in recycling rate and efficiency

Promoting circular economy is an important part of the new regulation. Collection targets for waste batteries, as well as recovery targets for materials, will gradually increase as we move into the 2030s.

While these targets may sound ambitious, Jouni Nissinen describes them as achievable.

“However, there may be more challenges with certain types of batteries, such as those used in electric personal transportation devices,” he adds. The Commission has pledged to provide clarifications on calculation methods by February 2025.

The safety of the battery collection phase will also be emphasised in the regulation. This is reflected in the expansion of the obligation to accept batteries, among other measures. In the future, sellers of batteries will be required to accept all batteries of the category they sell.

The Battery Regulation requires EU member states to conduct a composition analysis of municipal waste and electrical and electronic waste by 2026. This is aimed at determining the quantities of waste batteries that have ended up mixed with other waste, Jaana Mäenpää explains.

Producers’ reporting requirements are increasing

According to the regulation, failure to fulfill producer responsibility will result in a ban on placing products on the market in the future. Producers must also report if waste batteries are delivered for treatment to third countries, Jaana Mäenpää explains.

“In the fees paid by producer organisations, factors such as the amount of recycled material in waste batteries and the potential for the reuse or upcycling of batteries must be taken into account,” Mäenpää adds.

Regarding the provisions related to producer responsibility in the Battery Regulation, the details will be incorporated into national legislation at a later stage. In the initial phase, the focus will be on implementing the definitions related to the assessment of battery compliance.

The battery producer organisations, Akkukierrätys Pb and Recser Oy will develop a tool to facilitate a better understanding of the requirements of the new regulation.

Jouni Nissinen. Photo: Sus+Com Agency / Antti Partanen.

The application deadlines vary within the regulation

The application of the regulation that came into effect in August 2023 will commence in February 2024. However, there are numerous exceptions to this timeline.

The Commission intends to provide further clarification for many aspects of the regulation within the transitional periods. This means that particularly those deadlines that are further in the future may still undergo significant changes.

Changes related to producer responsibility must be implemented by August 2025. Guidelines, definitions, and interpretations related to reporting, for example, have already raised questions, and answers need to be provided soon, Jouni Nissinen states.

 “For example, recycling rate targets are applied as they are; they cannot be adjusted at national level.”

Watch a recording of the Battery Seminar in Finnish (YouTube) and an interview with the special advisor of the Ministry of the Environment, Jouni Nissinen (YouTube).

This article is a part of the joint communications of the battery and accumulator producer organisations Recser Oy and Akkukierrätys Pb Oy concerning the EU Batteries Regulation. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news on the subject.