EU puts recycling, ethical materials, at heart of blueprint for new battery regulations

by John Shepherd
'Action needed on lithium batteries' - environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius. Photo: Dati Bendo/EC-Audiovisual Service
The European Commission today unveiled proposals to overhaul EU battery regulations – putting tough new requirements for recycling and ethical sourcing of raw materials at the heart of the measures.

Under the new Batteries Regulation, batteries destined for the EU market, "regardless of their origin” would need to be "sustainable, circular, high performing and safe along their entire life cycle”, Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič said.

And environment commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said particular action was needed on requirements governing lithium-based batteries, to ensure products made outside the EU conformed to the bloc’s own "green” standards, as it invests in establishing a home-grown, European battery cells manufacturing industry, to serve the electric vehicles market.

Sinkevičius praised automotive batteries, such as lead-acid products, for their "quite high” levels of recyclability – but said "that isn't true for lithium-based batteries”.

"We want to change this. The number of lithium batteries available for recycling is projected to increase 700 times in the next 20 years. This will be a huge challenge, but also an opportunity.”

"We want to recover higher amounts of lithium and also of cobalt, copper, and lead – and to boost the demand for recycled materials and their quality through recycled content targets,” Sinkevičius said.

EU members states and the European Parliament are being urged to adopt the proposals by 2022.

The heads of three key industry bodies give their initial thoughts on the proposals in a special Spotlight feature for New Energy 360. Click on the link below...

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