On 9 December 2022, the Member States of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission reached an agreement on the content of the proposal for an EU Batteries Regulation, put forward by the Commission almost two years ago. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union must officially approve the regulation before it can enter into force. The aim is for this process to proceed promptly.
The Batteries Regulation will bring significant changes to the regulation of batteries and accumulators throughout their life cycle. The goal is to only bring durable and sustainably produced batteries and accumulators to the EU market in the future. The regulation speeds up the circular battery economy by introducing more stringent producer responsibility obligations.
During the negotiations, which lasted almost two years, both the European Parliament and the Member States presented several significantly divergent views regarding the Commission’s original proposal. The exact content of the regulation and the agreement achieved on 9 December is still unknown at this point.
However, the press releases published by the Ministry of the Environment, the European Parliament and the Council (see below for links to the press releases) hint at compromises and changes having been made to the Commission’s original proposal during the negotiations.
These compromises and changes are listed below.
The Batteries Regulation applies to all batteries, and new labelling and other requirements will be introduced later
- The regulation pertains to all batteries and accumulators, which will be divided into five categories in the future:
- Portable batteries and accumulators
- Batteries for light means of transport (LMT)
- Electric vehicle (EV) batteries
- Industrial batteries
- Starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) batteries
- Portable batteries and accumulators incorporated into appliances should be removable and replaceable by the end user 3.5 years after the entry into force of the regulation at the latest. Batteries for light means of transport must be replaceable by independent professionals.
- A carbon footprint declaration covering the entire life cycle of batteries and a digital Battery Passport will be obligatory not only for EV batteries and industrial batteries with a capacity of over 2 kWh but also for batteries for light means of transport, i.e. LMT batteries.
- The new labelling requirements will enter into force three years from the entry into force of the regulation, with the exception of the QR code to be marked on batteries, which will become obligatory after four years.
- By 2030, the Commission will assess whether to phase out the use of non-rechargeable portable batteries of general use.
Obligations concerning responsible battery production and the value chain
- All economic operators placing batteries on the EU market, except for SMEs, will be required to develop and implement a ‘due diligence policy’, consistent with international standards, to address the social and environmental risks linked to sourcing, processing and trading raw materials for batteries.
- The mandatory minimum levels of recycled content in new batteries will increase from the levels proposed by the Commission to the following:
- 16% for cobalt
- 85% for lead
- 6% for lithium
- 6% for nickel
- Documentation on the recycled content must also be delivered with the battery. Recycled raw materials include secondary raw materials obtained from both discarded batteries and manufacturing and consumer waste.
Collection and recycling rate targets will increase significantly
- The waste collection targets for portable batteries and accumulators will increase in stages as follows:
- The 63% collection target must be achieved by the end of 2027 (in 2021, the collection rate was 55%, read more about the current situation)
- The 73% collection target must be achieved by the end of 2030
- A new, dedicated collection rate requirement will be introduced for batteries for light means of transport (LMT), with the target increasing in stages:
- The 51% collection target must be achieved by the end of 2028
- The 61% collection target must be achieved by the end of 2031
- The recycling efficiency target for nickel-cadmium batteries was set higher than in the Commission’s proposal: 80% of their raw materials must be recycled by 2025.
- The lithium recovery targets were set higher than in the Commission’s proposal: the targets for recovering lithium from waste batteries through recycling processes are 50% by 2027 and 80% by 2031.
The regulation will be directly applicable in all Member States
The regulation will replace the current Battery Directive and constitute legislation directly applicable in all Member States once it enters into force. However, the agreement reached will leave some national leeway for the Member States with regard to actions concerning producer responsibility, among other things.
Recser Oy and Akkukierrätys Pb Oy have actively cooperated with the Ministry of the Environment and Members of the European Parliament throughout the consideration of the regulation and sought to ensure that the matters concerning producer responsibility will be taken into account properly in the consideration of the regulation. We will provide information on the progress of the approval process and the final content of the regulation as soon as such information is released.
Read more about the Commission’s proposal and its background in our articles:
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.