The impact of batteries on the environment and communities is set to significantly improve under a new law agreed by EU lawmakers on Friday. The European Union will impose battery producers tougher environmental standards. Batteries should become more environmentally friendly, easier to replace, and recyclable.
The new law will apply to all types of batteries sold in the EU: batteries for smartphones, household appliances, industrial batteries, batteries for scooters, e-bikes, and electric cars.
They will all get labels and QR codes detailing their performance, lifespan, and composition. Batteries for cars, scooters, and some industrial batteries will get a ‘digital passport’ detailing their specific characteristics.
Entire carbon footprint
Battery manufacturers, who want to sell in Europe, will have to report the product’s entire carbon footprint, from mining to production to recycling, as early as July 2024.
That data will then be used to set a maximum CO2 limit for batteries to apply as early as July 2027, ensuring that companies make them using clean energy instead of fossil fuels.
Wide range of issues
Companies selling batteries in the EU will also have to comply with rules designed to prevent environmental, human rights, and labor abuses in their supply chains. The law will require battery-makers to identify, prevent and address a wide range of issues, spanning water pollution to community rights.
Today batteries are already more resource-efficient than gasoline and diesel, which cannot be reused and recycled once they have been burned. However, from 2027, battery-makers will need to recover 90% of nickel and cobalt used, rising to 95% in 2031. They would also need to recover 50% of lithium used in 2027, rising to 80% in 2031.
The new law imposes environmental requirements on all types of batteries, whether produced in Europe or imported and will gradually limit access to the European market to the most sustainable batteries.
The new rules are also good news for Europe’s growing battery industry because they will ensure products made by new European players cannot be undercut by imported batteries made with coal-heavy energy and with little regard for human and workers’ rights.
By 2030, Europe aims to account for 25% of global battery production, up from just 3% in 2020.