Batteries will need to be sustainable under proposed EU legislation

10 Dec 2020

Image: © Dmitry Naumov/

The modernisation of EU legislation on batteries will be the first initiative delivered in the Circular Economy Action Plan.

Demand for batteries is set to increase 14-fold by 2030, according to the EU, meaning their environmental impact is set to grow as well.

With this in mind, the European Commission has today (10 December) proposed to modernise EU legislation on batteries, aiming to make them more sustainable throughout their life cycle.

The proposal will see the European Commission deliver its first initiative under the actions announced in the new Circular Economy Action Plan earlier this year, and sustainable batteries are a key factor in the goals of the European Green Deal.

The Commission proposes that all batteries that are placed on the EU market – industrial, automotive, electric vehicle and portable – be subject to mandatory requirements to ensure that they are sustainable, high-performing and safe throughout their life cycle.

These mandatory requirements may include the use of responsibly sourced materials with restricted use of hazardous substances, minimum content of recycled materials, a focus on carbon footprints, performance, durability and labelling, as well as meeting collection and recycling targets.

Safe, circular and healthy

Making batteries more sustainable is one measure to help facilitate the EU’s goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Better-performing, sustainable batteries will make a key contribution to the electrification of road transport, the European Commission said, reducing emissions and increasing the uptake of electric vehicles.

Under this proposal, from 1 July 2024, only rechargeable industrial and electric vehicle batteries for which a carbon footprint declaration has been established could be placed on the market.

Additionally, in a bid to improve the collection and recycling of portable batteries, the proposal recommends that the current collection rate of 45pc be raised to 65pc in 2025 and 70pc in 2030.

Other batteries such as industrial, automotive or electric vehicle ones would have to be collected in full. The proposed regulation also defines a framework that will facilitate the repurposing of batteries from electric vehicles so that they can have a second life.

Executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said that while clean energy is vital, the increasing reliance on batteries should not harm the environment.

“The new batteries regulation will help reduce the environmental and social impact of all batteries throughout their life cycle,” he said. “Today’s proposal allows the EU to scale up the use and production of batteries in a safe, circular and healthy way.”

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic