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EU legislation on batteries to achieve a sustainable, circular and climate neutral economy

Based on the new Circular Economy Action Plan, the European Commission proposed to modernise the current legislation on batteries, so that to contribute to achieving the zero-pollution target included in the European Green Deal.

The European Commission expects new batteries placed on the EU market to be sustainable, high performing and safe all along their entire life cycle. Thus, they have to be produced with the lowest possible environmental impact and must not harm human rights or social and ecological standards. Sustainability also means that batteries have to be long-lasting and at the end of their usage they should be repurposed, remanufactured or recycled, feeding valuable materials back into the economy.

There are also mandatory requirements for all type of batteries: only responsibly sourced materials with restricted use of hazardous substances can be applied and there also must be a minimum amount of recycled materials. Furthermore, carbon footprint, performance and durability also matter. With these requirements, the development of a sustainable and competitive battery industry can be ensured within the EU.

“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,” highlighted Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations.

“With this innovative EU proposal on sustainable batteries, we are giving the first big push to the circular economy under our new Circular Economy Action Plan,” added Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. “Batteries are essential for crucial sectors of our economy and society such as mobility, energy and communications. This future-oriented 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.”

Future batteries will boost up the electrification of road transport, reduce its emissions and facilitate a higher share of renewable sources in the EU energy mix. That is why from 1 July 2024, only rechargeable industrial and electric vehicles batteries for which a carbon footprint declaration has been established, can be placed on the market.

Another important part of being sustainable is the collection and recycling of portable batteries: the current 45 per cent collection rate should rise to 65 per cent until 2025 and another plus 5 per cent till 2030 so that the materials of batteries we use at home are not lost for the economy. Industrial, automotive or electric vehicle batteries have to be collected in full and as high level of recovery and recycling have to be achieved as possible, in particular of valuable materials such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and lead.

By the providing of legal certainty, the European Commission expects to unlock large-scale investments and boost the production capacity for innovative and sustainable batteries to respond to the fast-growing market.

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