EU agrees new law on more sustainable and circular batteries


The European Commission says it welcomes the provisional political agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council aiming to make all batteries placed on the EU market more sustainable, circular and safe.

The agreement builds on the Commission’s proposal from December 2020 and addresses the social, economic and environmental matters related to all types of batteries.

The new law brings forward both the circular economy and zero pollution ambitions of the EU, the Commission says, by making batteries sustainable throughout their entire lifecycle – from the sourcing of materials to their collection, recycling and repurposing.

In the current energy context, the Commission says the new rules establish an “essential framework” to foster further development of a competitive sustainable battery industry, which will support Europe’s clean energy transition and independence from fuel imports.

The Commission says that batteries are also a key technology that play a central role in advancing the EU’s climate neutrality by 2050.

The Commission says that the law means sustainability requirements on carbon footprint, recycled content and performance and durability will be introduced gradually from 2024 onwards.

It continues that “a more comprehensive” regulatory framework on Extended Producer Responsibility will start applying by mid-2025, with higher collection targets being introduced over time.

The agreement reached today sets out clear rules to support scaling up battery use and production.

For portable batteries, the targets will be 63% in 2027 and 73% in 2030, while for batteries from light means of transport, the target will be 51% in 2028 and 61% in 2031. The Commission says that all collected batteries will have to be recycled and “high levels” of recovery have to be achieved, in particular of valuable materials such as copper, cobalt, lithium, nickel and lead.

Under the new law, companies placing batteries on the EU internal market will have to demonstrate that the materials used for their manufacturing were “sourced responsibly”.

The Commission says this means that social and environmental risks associated with the extraction, processing and trading of the raw materials used for battery manufacturing will have to be identified and mitigated.

Commenting on the new law, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said: “Batteries play an increasingly important role in our lives. Whether they power our cars, bikes, and household appliances or serve other uses, batteries should be sustainable and easy to recycle.

“The agreement reached today sets out clear rules to support scaling up battery use and production, and ensures it is done in a safe, circular and healthy way.”

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