The EU Batteries and Waste Batteries Regulation (2023) is going to impact a lot of the electronic products we work on for our customers if they are to be sold in the EU from about 2025; especially portable electronics. Battery sustainability, traceability, and recycling are becoming very important for products sold in EU countries. Let’s look into the regulation in more detail here so you can be prepared…
What is the EU Batteries and Waste Batteries Regulation?
REGULATION (EU) 2023/1542 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 12 July 2023 concerning batteries and waste batteries, amending Directive 2008/98/EC and Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 and repealing Directive 2006/66/EC
The regulation of the European Parliament and the Council applies to all batteries that are used for consumer, industrial, medical, and automotive fields, among others, including all waste portable batteries, electric vehicle batteries, industrial batteries, starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) batteries (used mostly for vehicles and machinery) and batteries for light means of transport (e.g. electric bikes, e-mopeds, e-scooters), and also to mobile electronic products in general. It replaces a previous directive (2006/66/EC).
It aims to regulate the entire life cycle of batteries, from production (with strict transparency requirements about production facilities) through to disposal and/or recycling. Batteries must be safe but also more sustainable.
And one of the requirements is a digital product passport, again.
The regulation touches on these important points:
Traceability and who is the trader
Regarding traceability, the regulation says this:
This Regulation should specify how the traceability of traders’ obligations laid down in Regulation (EU) 2022/2065 of the European Parliament and of the Council (28) is to be applied to online platforms allowing consumers to conclude distance contracts with producers offering batteries, including batteries that are incorporated in appliances, light means of transport or other vehicles, and to consumers located in the Union in relation to the registers of producers established pursuant to this Regulation. For the purposes of this Regulation, any producer offering batteries, including those incorporated in appliances, light means of transport or other vehicles, by means of distance contracts directly to consumers located in a Member State, whether established in a Member State or a third country, should be considered to be a trader as defined in Regulation (EU) 2022/2065. Pursuant to that Regulation, providers of online platforms, falling within the scope of Section 4 of Chapter III thereof and who allow consumers to conclude distance contracts with producers, should obtain from those producers information on the register of producers where they are registered as well as their registration number and a self-certification committing to comply with the extended producer responsibility requirements laid down in this Regulation. The implementation of the rules on the traceability of traders for the sale of batteries online are subject to the enforcement rules laid down in Regulation (EU) 2022/2065.
Product passport for the battery
We’ve already mentioned that product passports are going to become necessary in the coming few years for products being imported into the EU for the sake of both consumers and market surveillance authorities to have quick access to all kinds of product and supply chain information, and batteries are no different:
The battery passport should provide the public with information about batteries placed on the market and their sustainability requirements. It should provide remanufacturers, second-life operators and recyclers with up-to-date information for the handling of batteries and specific actors with tailored information such as on the state of health of batteries. It should be possible for the battery passport to support market surveillance authorities in carrying out their tasks under this Regulation, but it should not replace or modify the responsibilities of market surveillance authorities, which should, in line with Regulation (EU) 2019/1020, check the information provided in battery passports.
Batteries that this regulation does not apply to
The only exceptions are batteries that apply to EU member states’ security interests, such as munitions, arms, and other military products, equipment designed to be sent into space, and equipment designed for nuclear installation security.
The EU Batteries and Waste Batteries regulation’s objectives
The goals of the regulation can be summarised as follows:
- SAFETY — the Batteries Regulation will ensure that batteries placed on the EU single market will only be allowed to contain a restricted amount of harmful substances that are necessary. Substances of concern used in batteries will be regularly reviewed.
- SUSTAINABILITY — targets for recycling efficiency, material recovery and recycled content will be introduced gradually from 2025 onwards. All collected waste batteries will have to be recycled and high levels of recovery will have to be achieved, in particular the critical raw materials such as cobalt, lithium and nickel. This will guarantee that valuable materials are recovered at the end of their useful life and brought back into the economy by adopting stricter targets for recycling efficiency and material recovery over time.
- SUSTAINABILITY — starting in 2027, consumers will be able to remove and replace the portable batteries in their electronic products at any time of the life cycle. This will extend the life of these products before their final disposal, will encourage re-use and will contribute to the reduction of post-consumer waste. (Source)
The circular economy and replaceable batteries
The EU Council said this about how the new EU batteries and waste batteries regulation supports the goal of reaching a circular economy:
The new rules aim to promote a circular economy by regulating batteries throughout their life cycle. The regulation therefore establishes end-of-life requirements, including collection targets and obligations, targets for the recovery of materials and extended producer responsibility.
The regulation sets targets for producers to collect waste portable batteries (63% by the end of 2027 and 73% by the end of 2030), and introduces a dedicated collection objective for waste batteries for light means of transport (51% by the end of 2028 and 61% by the end of 2031).
The regulation sets a target for lithium recovery from waste batteries of 50% by the end of 2027 and 80% by the end of 2031, which can be amended through delegated acts depending on market and technological developments and the availability of lithium.
The regulation provides for mandatory minimum levels of recycled content for industrial, SLI batteries and EV batteries. These are initially set at 16% for cobalt, 85% for lead, 6% for lithium and 6% for nickel. Batteries will have to hold a recycled content documentation.
The recycling efficiency target for nickel-cadmium batteries is set at 80% by the end of 2025 and 50% by the end 2025 for other waste batteries.
The regulation provides that by 2027 portable batteries incorporated into appliances should be removable and replaceable by the end-user, leaving sufficient time for operators to adapt the design of their products to this requirement. This is an important provision for consumers. Light means of transport batteries will need to be replaceable by an independent professional.
Interestingly here you can see the ambitious targets for the recycling of battery materials. The Council is not being coy about the importance of recovering the majority of battery materials and for manufacturers to show proof of this.
In addition, the rise of the ‘right to repair‘ continues and, in what may be seen by many as a common-sense move, new electronic devices that include a portable battery must allow them to be replaced by the user, thereby extending device lifespans.
Not only does this encourage a circular economy, but it also reduces the environmental impact of batteries and electronic portable devices.
Related articles you should read about similar EU regulations
The EU Commission has been hard at work to raise the bar on the sustainability and traceability of products being imported and sold there, regardless of whether you’re an EU business or not. We’ve spoken and written a lot about upcoming requirements that will affect importers starting now in 2024. Keep reading and listening on this and similar topics and get prepared by hitting the following links:
- 7 New EU Product Compliance Requirements You Can’t Ignore In 2023
- E Waste Impact on the Environment (Analysis)
- Minimizing a Product’s ‘Cradle to Grave’ Environmental Impact
- Why Design Cradle To Cradle Products? [Podcast]
- 15 Key Eco Certifications For Green Manufacturers
- Getting Ahead Of The Upcoming EU Product Liability Directive
- The Dangers of Cheap Li-ion Batteries and the Future of Compliance
- Do you have enough visibility over your supply chain to satisfy new EU sustainability regulations?
- What is the EU Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation?