European batteries are on track to become the world’s longest-lasting, lawmakers say – EURACTIV.com
Under new rules agreed by MEPs on Friday, EU lawmakers said batteries made in Europe could be the longest-lasting in the world.
The new battery regulations will not only help the European Union meet its environmental goals, but also support the nascent battery market. Europeans really seek to compete with the Asian and American giants in this area.
Currently, China, Japan and South Korea are the world’s largest battery producers, placing Asia as the world’s leading producer of electric vehicle batteries. North America is the second largest producer, with Europe in third place.
The rules newly adopted on Friday (December 9) will cover the entire life cycle of batteries, from raw material extraction to end-of-life disposal, including industrial production.
Chief negotiator Achille Variati, an Italian MEP from the centre-left S&D group, said the measures had been agreed “can be a benchmark for the entire global battery market”.
“We have agreed on measures that benefit consumers greatly: batteries will work better, be safer and easier to remove”did he declare.
“Our overall goal is to build a stronger recycling industry in Europe, especially for lithium, and a competitive industrial sector as a whole, which is important in the coming decades for the energy transition and the strategic autonomy of our continent”he added.
The regulation will apply to all batteries sold in the EU, from portable ones in electronic devices to batteries in electric cars and batteries used in e-scooters and e-bikes.
As part of the regulations, batteries for electric cars and electric scooters, and larger industrial batteries will have to display a “carbon footprint statement”, indicating the amount of carbon needed to produce these.
Portable batteries should also be easy to remove and replace. Some manufacturers, including iPhone maker Apple, have objected to this requirement.
To better inform consumers, batteries need to contain QR codes that specify information related to their capacity, their performance, their durability and their chemical composition.
Compliance with the EU’s green production standard will be a requirement for battery sales within the Union.
According to forecasts, by 2030 battery needs in the European Union will be 14 times greater than today.
Duty of vigilance
The extraction of the metals used to make the batteries has caused controversy.
In 2016, Amnesty International sent shockwaves through the tech sector when it published a report showing that 35,000 children were working in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s largest producer of the metal.
The report drew sharp criticism from lawmakers and consumers, and the industry vowed to tackle abuses in the supply chain.
Under the new rules, all companies placing batteries on the EU market must have a ‘due diligence policy’ addressing abuses in raw material sourcing.
To reduce the amount of resources that need to be imported into the EU, the EU has also raised collection and recycling targets.
The agreement provides that new batteries must contain a certain percentage of recycled materials: 16% cobalt, 85% lead, 6% lithium and 6% nickel.
Lawmakers have also set ambitious collection targets for portable batteries to ensure a steady flow of recycled materials. According to the rules, the collection targets will increase from 45% in 2023 to 73% in 2030.
For electric vehicles, the collection target is set at 100%.
The centre-right EPP group welcomed the deal, which it says is necessary to enable Europe to compete on the global battery stage.
“Unfortunately, the EU is lagging behind in battery production, which makes us vulnerable to industrial competition from Asia and the United States. With this agreement, we are taking another step forward to strengthen European competitiveness.said Conservative MEP Jessica Polfjard.
The Greens also welcomed the deal, which it argued was necessary to move Europe towards a more circular economy.
“By setting targets on both the supply and demand sides, we are creating a market for recycled materials. Not only do we need to open fewer new mines, but it also means that the ever-growing mountain of electronic waste is captured and used as a new raw material in the future.”said Greens MEP Bas Eickhout.
Although the Dutch MEP believed that the recycling targets could be more ambitious, he accepted the desire to emphasize the use of recovered materials as being “good start”.
Centrist group Renew said the new regulations “is a victory for us and for the climate”.
“Instead of throwing away your old electronic devices, it’s easier to replace used batteries with new recycled batteries”said Swedish MEP Karin Karlsbro.
Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton tried to present the regulation as support for the European production force. He said the new agreement would ensure that European companies would not “subcontractors only” in the global market.
The agreement will now be submitted to Parliament and the Council for final approval.