There has been significant regulatory progress to modernize EU legislation on batteries, such as the recent initiative announced in December 2020. Sustainability, clean energy and climate neutrality are among the goals under the EU Green Deal, the same goals that derive from the Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC) as well.
On December 10th 2020, the European Commission proposes to modernize EU legislation on batteries, delivering its first initiative among the actions announced in the new Circular Economy Action Plan. Sustainable batteries are key for the goals of the European Green Deal and contribute to the zero pollution ambition set in it. They promote competitive sustainability and are necessary for green transport, clean energy and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The proposal addresses the social, economic and environmental issues related to all types of batteries. Batteries placed on the EU market should become sustainable, produced with the lowest possible environmental impact in full respect of human rights as well as social and ecological standards.
Since 2006, batteries and waste batteries have been regulated at EU level under the Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC). A modernization of the framework is necessary because of changed socioeconomic conditions, technological developments, markets, and battery uses. Demand for batteries is increasing rapidly and is set to increase 14 fold by 2030. This is mostly driven by electric transport making this market an increasingly strategic one at the global level. Such global exponential growth in demand for batteries will lead to an equivalent increase in demand for raw materials, hence the need to minimize their environmental impact.
The Commission proposes mandatory requirements for all batteries (i.e. industrial, automotive, electric vehicle and portable) placed on the EU market. Requirements such as use of responsibly sourced materials with restricted use of hazardous substances, minimum content of recycled materials, carbon footprint, performance and durability and labelling, as well as meeting collection and recycling targets, are essential for the development of more sustainable and competitive battery industry across Europe and around the world. Providing legal certainty will additionally help unlock large-scale investments and boost the production capacity for innovative and sustainable batteries in Europe and beyond to respond to the fast-growing market.
The measures that the Commission proposes will facilitate achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Better and more performant batteries will make a key contribution to the electrification of road transport, which will significantly reduce its emissions, increase the uptake of electric vehicles and facilitate a higher share of renewable sources in the EU energy mix. With this proposal, the Commission also aims to boost the circular economy of the battery value chains and promote more efficient use of resources with the aim of minimizing the environmental impact of batteries.
Last but not least, the Commission proposes to establish new requirements and targets on the content of recycled materials and collection, treatment and recycling of batteries at the end-of-life part. This would make sure that industrial, automotive or electric vehicle batteries are not lost to the economy after their useful service life.
The proposed regulation defines a framework that will facilitate the repurposing of batteries from electric vehicles so that they can have a second life, for example as stationary energy storage systems, or integration into electricity grids as energy resources. With its new battery sustainability standards, the Commission will also promote globally the green transition and establish a blueprint for further initiatives under its sustainable product policy on whether the changes are valid.