The new EU battery law is welcome but should support all chemistries.

A new era for batteries regulation has potentially come into force in Europe after the EU Parliament voted in favour of new rules covering their design, production and recycling last week.  Once authorised by the Environmental Council it will be published in the OJEU, followed by a 20-day period before it finally comes into force.

The new legislation establishes new rules for manufacturing and recycling in Europe, including setting minimum levels of materials recycling – with a 90 per cent target set for lead recovery by 2027. In Europe lead batteries collected at the end of their life are already fully recycled and the materials re-used in new batteries. This closed loop is not yet achieved by any other battery technology.

Lead batteries are key to the shift to sustainable, low emission transport systems, supporting increased vehicle hybridisation and electrification, all the way from start-stop technology to full EVs.

Creating a resilient EU recycling industry is key for the energy transition within the EU. Mr. Achille Variati, Italian MEP who steered the legislation through the EU Parliament, said: “Our overall aim is to build…a competitive industrial sector as a while, which is crucial in the coming decades for our continent’s energy transition and strategic autonomy. These measures could become a benchmark for the entire global battery market.”

Initiatives included in the new legislation include measuring the carbon footprint of battery production, battery passport, as well as materials recovery and recycling.

However much of the detailed decisions will be made in a raft of secondary legislation which the new law has triggered, and which will take many years to complete.

Commenting on the new law, Dr Steve Binks, ILA’s Regulatory Affairs Director, said: “The new regulation approved by the EU Parliament is the first piece of legislation that covers the entire battery life cycle, from design to end-of-life. In Europe, nearly all lead batteries are collected at the end of their life and processed by a highly efficient network of extensively regulated recyclers.

“On average new batteries manufactured in the region contain more than 80 per cent of recycled raw materials. Lead batteries are almost unique in their delivery of a circular economy that means that European production is not dependent upon the import of critical raw materials and is strategically autonomous. Legislators must now ensure that the plethora of secondary legislation built into the proposal is properly developed to facilitate strong and globally competitive battery value chains for all chemistries.”

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