EU proposes stricter regulations for sustainable development of batteries

Batteries used in industry, automotive and electric vehicles must have restricted use of hazardous substances, minimum content of recycled materials and a low carbon footprint

Pathway to COP26 report

The European Commission is proposing stricter regulations to make batteries more sustainable and contribute towards a circular and climate neutral economy.

Under its mandatory requirements for batteries, including those used in industry, automotive, electric vehicles (EVs) and portable, materials must be responsibly-sourced, with restricted use of hazardous substances, minimum content of recycled materials and a low carbon footprint.

Batteries must be produced with the “lowest possible” environmental impact, using materials obtained in full respect to human rights as well as social and ecological standards and must be long-lasting and safe and at the end of their life, should be repurposed, remanufactured or recycled.

Demand for batteries is increasingly rapidly and is set to rise by 14-fold by 2030, mostly driven by the electric transport market.

The EU could account for 17% of the global demand for batteries by 2030, becoming the second biggest market, including in terms of battery production.

The Commission believes batteries that are more sustainable throughout their lifecycle are key to meeting the goals of the European Green Deal and contribute to the zero pollution ambition set in it, in addition to supporting the 2050 climate neutrality target.

From 1st July 2024, only rechargeable industrial and EV batteries for which a carbon footprint declaration has been established, can be placed on the market.

To significantly improve the collection and recycling of portable batteries, the current figure of 45% collection rate should rise to 65% in 2025 and 70% in 2030, while other batteries – industrial, automotive and EV ones – have to be collected in full.

All collected batteries must be recycled and high levels of recovery have to be achieved, in particular of valuable materials such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and lead.

Vice President for Inter-institutional Relations Maroš Šefčovič said: “The Commission puts forward a new future-proof regulatory framework on batteries to ensure that only the greenest, best performing and safest batteries make it onto the EU market.

“This ambitious framework on transparent and ethical sourcing of raw materials, carbon footprint of batteries, and recycling is an essential element to achieve open strategic autonomy in this critical sector and accelerate our work under the European Battery Alliance.”

If you enjoyed this story you can sign up to our weekly email for Energy Live News – and if you’re interested in hearing more about the journey to net zero by 2050, you can also sign up to the future Net Zero newsletter. 

Latest Podcast