Spotlight on industry reaction to EU's Batteries Regulation proposals

by John Shepherd
EU says sustainable battery production is key to the bloc's plans to establish a battery cells manufacturing industry. Image: European Battery Alliance
Industry leaders have broadly welcomed the sustainability goals set out in European Commission proposals, unveiled today, to overhaul EU battery regulations.

The heads of key industry bodies gave their initial thoughts on the Batteries Regulation proposals in this special Spotlight feature for New Energy 360…
International Lead Association (ILA)

Dr Andy Bush, managing director of the ILA, said a range of battery technologies will be required to meet the EU’s zero-carbon objectives.

"We therefore support the focus of the new proposal on increasing recycling efficiencies and material recovery for all battery chemistries, increasing use of recycled materials in the manufacture of new batteries, increased requirements for due diligence and responsible sourcing of raw materials, and minimising the environmental footprint of batteries.”

Bush said the ILA was also "encouraged” that the proposals "properly recognise that restriction of hazardous substances in batteries should only occur where an assessment of risk to human health or the environment demonstrates that it is not adequately controlled – and moreover should also take into consideration an evaluation of socio-economics”. 

"Streamlining this assessment, by use of existing mechanisms in the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation, is also welcomed and addresses our previous concerns regarding overlap and coherence between EU regulations.”

Closed loop

Bush said advanced lead batteries currently supply more than 70% of rechargeable battery energy storage globally.

In Europe, lead batteries are already the most recycled batteries in Europe, with all of those collected at the end of their life recycled in a closed loop, Bush said. 

Meanwhile, 80% of a new lead battery made in Europe comprises recycled materials collected in Europe, "supporting thousands of jobs and suppling other key industries and services with products that deliver clean energy”.

Eurobat, the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers

Eurobat said the proposals would "define the framework for current and future investments in the European battery eco-system”. 

Dr Marc Zoellner, Eurobat’s president and the CEO of Hoppecke Batteries, said: "All battery technologies and applications will be regulated by this new piece of legislation, stretching all the way from batteries in vehicles and forklift trucks to energy storage and telecommunications.”

"European manufacturing must take a leadership role for a sustainable future, to which all battery technologies will contribute.”

Eurobat executive-director Rene Schroeder said the proposals had "the potential to be a real gamechanger with its 360° policy approach”.

'Innovation framework'

"Sustainability and decarbonisation must go hand-in-hand with an ambitious industrial policy for batteries, as well as a comprehensive and technology-inclusive research and innovation framework,” Schroeder said.

On ‘green batteries’ made in Europe, Eurobat said manufacturers had to be able to "take the lead in designing and building the most environmentally sustainable energy storage solutions, and we appreciate that the spirit of the proposal goes in this direction”. 

However, to "avoid hindering innovation in a relatively new sector”, Eurobat urged that new regulations "should not be too prescriptive”.

"For instance, efforts to standardise the way battery packs are designed, as part of the EU’s planned standardisation request, would go against optimising design for high-performance, energy-efficient battery products.”

'Legislative overlaps'

Eurobat also called for the new Batteries Regulation to become "the sole reference for the legislative framework on batteries”.

The association noted that batteries and substances used in batteries currently fall within the scope of the (existing) Batteries Directive, the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive, and REACH. 

"This creates legislative overlaps, a lack of business certainty and incoherent policy directions. We therefore strongly welcome the fact that the new proposal looks at the battery sector holistically and moves towards a risk-based approach, taking into account chemicals management, occupational health and safety policies, competitiveness and sustainability,” Eurobat said.

"All battery technologies – lead, lithium, nickel and sodium – are essential for society to tackle climate change and support the decarbonisation of the transport, energy, logistics, production and telecommunications sectors.”

"We therefore appreciate that, in most cases, the proposal looks at the specificities of each battery technology and applications when it comes to recycling efficiency, collection and information requirements. For instance, the proposal correctly recognises that automotive and industrial batteries are collected at the end of their life, and rightly includes a continuation of the current no-losses policy in this regard.”

Advanced Rechargeable & Lithium Batteries Association (Recharge)

Recharge said it was studying the proposals in detail. However, president Patrick de Metz, warned the "high level of complexity” in the proposals could lead to "over-regulating fast-paced, innovative industries such as batteries or electric mobility”.

Related article in our archive: