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The Battery Seminar of the anniversary year brought the experts of battery industry together for the first time to discuss the EU’s new Battery Regulation: “The whole value chain was there”

The seminar of the battery industry manufacturers’ anniversary year brought the industry experts together for the first time to talk about the new EU Battery Regulation. Nearly 300 battery industry experts took part, either in person or remotely, in the anniversary seminar held in Heureka Science Centre on Tuesday 26th of September.

“By now, it is clear that the new regulation will introduce a wide range of changes that apply to us all,” says the Managing Director of Recser Oy, Liisa-Marie Stenbäck.

“With this Battery Seminar, we wanted to give everyone the chance to hear about the battery regulation as early on as possible, so that everyone can stay on top of which parts of it apply to us, what needs to be reviewed and where we should become more proactive,” Stenbäck continues.

The Battery Seminar held in Heureka on 26 September 2023 also celebrated the 15-year history of the producer organisations. On that same date, exactly 15 years ago on, the EU-regulated producer responsibility regarding batteries came into effect in Finland. At the time Recser Oy was founded as the producer organisation of portable batteries and Akkukierrätys Pb Oy as the producer organisation of lead-based starter batteries and industrial batteries. Later on, Suomen Autokierrätys Oy joined in after being accepted as the producer organisation of traction batteries of electric vehicles in 2018.

The new Battery Regulation by EU that came into force in August highlights the whole life cycle of batteries.

The seminar was started by reviewing what will change due to the new Battery Regulation. The new regulation highlights the entire life cycle of batteries, from sourcing the raw materials and from product development and design to the product’s recycling and reuse.

“The previous directive on batteries was mainly focused on the end of their life cycle, and this new regulation reviews the matter from the perspective of the whole life cycle,” says the Managing Director of Akkukierrätys Pb Oy, Johanna Alakerttula.

“The beginning of the life cycle, i.e. product design and manufacturing, have a major impact on batteries’ recyclability also towards the end of their life cycle. Paying attention to these early stages is vital, as it allows making responsible and sustainable decisions from climate perspective,” Alakerttula says.

This new, more comprehensive view was welcomed among the seminar guests. Perspectives such as the positive effect of the Battery Regulation on business and its boost to circular economy were brought up in many conversations.

“For the first time, we are now considering how circular economy can really be boosted in the battery industry and how we can create a functional market for recycled materials to make recycling truly profitable,” Stenbäck says.

Producer responsibility is in the centre of the new regulation, increasing the responsibilities of industry operators.

Producer responsibility was a key theme in many of the seminar addresses. The new Battery Regulation will replace the old directive and modernises the recycling regulations. The regulation will also create many more responsibilities and obligations for battery producers, i.e. the manufacturers and importers.

The regulation obligates battery manufacturers to describe their raw material origins in more detail in accordance with the due diligence principle. The “blending obligation” also sets the minimum requirements for recycled materials used in new batteries.

“These different blending obligations and the requirement to design the products to be more easily recyclable have the largest effect on the manufacturer’s end, at the actual factory,” says Juha Kenraali, the Managing Director of Suomen Autokierrätys Oy, commenting on the practical impacts of the new Battery Regulation.

Kenraali also states that the new obligations and the requirement of new batteries being repairable, for example, will demand new kind of competence and create new roles for workplaces.

“The future maintenance and repairs of batteries require finding new operational methods and creating new functionalities for producer organisations,” Kenraali says.

The seminar brought together a wide range of different perspectives on the Battery Regulation.

The seminar organisers and visitors considered the shared day’s offering a comprehensive view into the Battery Regulation and its significance to Finland and the industry operators. The perspectives of producer organisations, the field’s businesses and ministries were all heard.

Operators from all sections of the value chain took part in the seminar, from raw material experts to battery importers and recycling operators. All in all, the seminar offered perspectives on the future of battery recycling from parties such as the Ministry of the Environment; the Pirkanmaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, which also acts as the supervisory authority of producer responsibility; the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment; Business Finland; battery and car importers; and reuse and recycling operators.

“The best thing about this seminar was that the whole battery value chain was represented so well in the event,” says Liisa-Marie Stenbäck from Recser.