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EC proposals to drive sustainability of EV batteries

The European Commission has unveiled proposals for new legislation on batteries, intended to enhance the sustainable production, deployment and waste management of all batteries placed on the EU market, including for electric vehicles.

Revealed back in December, the proposed new battery regulations will replace the existing EU Batteries Directive that dates back to 2006 and forms part of the new Circular Economy Action Plan.

The European Commission said new legislation is needed as batteries will prove key in the transition to climate neutrality but action needs to be taken to ensure the expected massive deployment of batteries does not hamper work in the green transition.

Global demand for batteries is set to increase 14 fold by 2030 and the EU could account for 17% of that demand. This will lead to an equally exponential global growth in demand for raw materials, bringing a significant environmental impact, while also leading to “surging” amounts of waste; the number of lithium batteries ready for recycling is expected to increase 700 times between 2020 and 2040.

To tackle this, the new regulation establishes a comprehensive framework covering all types of batteries and addressing their whole-life cycle from production process to design requirements as well as second life, recycling and incorporating recycled content into new batteries.

Key parts of the new directive will include ensuring that raw materials are supplied sustainably and responsibly, that battery cells, modules and packs are manufactured using clean energy, contain low amount of hazardous substances, are energy efficient and designed to last long, and that are properly collected, recycled or repurposed.

It will also levy rules on batteries entering the EU market, independently of their origin. For batteries manufactured outside the EU, it will be the importer or distributor of the batteries into the EU that needs to ensure compliance of the batteries with the relevant requirements set out in the regulation.

The focus on the end-of-life phase is intended to ensure that batteries are repurposed or remanufactured and that the materials they contain feed back into the economy.

The measures will be legally binding and adopted at EU level.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “Batteries are essential for crucial sectors of our economy and society such as mobility, energy and communications. This future-orientated legislative toolbox will upgrade the sustainability of batteries in each phase of their lifecycle. Batteries are full of valuable materials and we want to ensure that no battery is lost to waste. The sustainability of batteries has to grow hand in hand with their increasing numbers on the EU market.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news - or gossip.