EU announces sustainability criteria for batteries

The EU Commission has presented its proposals for mandatory sustainability criteria for batteries. For example, the CO2 footprint for batteries used in electric vehicles is to be regulated, and recycling quotas for certain materials are to be adhered to.

The EU Commission wants to make information on the CO2 footprint mandatory from 1 July 2024. From 1 January 2027, the proportion of recycled cobalt, lead, lithium and nickel contained therein will also have to be stated – although this does not involve specifications that must be adhered to – until 2030.

According to what the Commission wants, regulations will follow from 2030: from 1 January 2030, whereby these batteries will have to contain minimum proportions of recycled material: this includes, for example, 12 per cent for cobalt, 85 per cent for lead, four per cent for lithium and also four per cent for nickel. Five years later, on 1 January 2035, the proportions are to be further increased. For cobalt, 20 per cent recycling will then be required, for lithium ten per cent and for nickel 12 per cent.

At this stage, this is still a just proposal by the EU Commission to modernise EU legislation for batteries, so it is not a concrete and decided-upon amendment to the law. A lot can still change before the proposals result in binding specifications.

For example, the passages apply to electric vehicles and partly also to industrial batteries, while other specifications were proposed for portable batteries. The basic tenor, however, is the same: For batteries, materials from responsible sources are to be used, the use of hazardous substances is to be reduced, a minimum content of recycled materials is to be achieved, and the CO2 balance, performance data and durability are to be labelled.

The Commission said it developed the criteria from the background of the European Green Deal. In a press release, the Commission says, “Batteries that are more sustainable throughout their life cycle are key for the goals of the European Green Deal and contribute to the zero pollution ambition set in it.”

In addition, the Commission hopes the targets will provide legal certainty that will encourage companies to invest in the sector. “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,” said EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič. “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.” (announcement), (Q&A)


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