As batteries become a strategic market, the European Parliament is working on new rules to tackle related environmental, ethical and social issues. At least 30 million zero-emission electric vehicles are forecast to be on EU roads by 2030. While electric cars are expected to significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions, they have an environmentally damaging downside: their batteries.
The European Parliament has been working on an update of the EU’s battery directive to ensure that batteries can be repurposed, remanufactured or recycled at the end of their life.In a report adopted on 10 March, Parliament said new rules should cover the entire product life cycle, from design to consumption and all the way to recycling into new products. The proposal is linked to the EU’s circular economy action plan and the EU’s industrial strategy.
On 9 December, Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement to overhaul the rules on batteries to take into account technological developments and future challenges. Once formally approved by both institutions, the new rules will enter directly into force. This should make batteries more sustainable, performant and durable. MEPs called for the introduction of a new category of batteries for “light means of transport”, such as e-bikes or e-scooters, due to their growing use and technical developments. The new category comes alongside the existing portable, automotive and industrial battery classes.   

Global demand for batteries is set to increase 14 fold by 2030 and the EU could account for 17% of that demand. This is mainly driven by the rise of the digital economy, renewable energy and low-carbon mobility. The increase of electric vehicles using batteries will make this market a strategic one at the global level.

Limiting batteries’ carbon footprint

Batteries will have to carry a label that reflects their carbon footprint so that their environmental impact is more transparent. This will be mandatory for electric vehicle batteries (EV), light means of transport batteries (LMT) and rechargeable industrial batteries with a capacity above 2kWh.In addition, it will cover the entire life of the battery and guarantee that new batteries will contain minimum levels of certain raw materials.

In order to tackle human rights abuses and ensure batteries are more ethically sourced, MEPs wanted the EU to introduce a due diligence obligation on battery manufacturers. They will have to comply with requirements addressing social and environmental risks around the sourcing, processing and trading of raw materials and secondary raw materials. All economic operators placing batteries on the EU market, except for small and medium-sized enterprises, will be required to develop and implement this due diligence policy.

Source: European Parliament