EU pushes for tighter rules on battery sustainability

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The European Union is laying the groundwork for new rules aimed at improving the sustainability of batteries, something that will become more crucial as the bloc moves to ban the sale of vehicles with gas and diesel engines by 2035.

The European Council and European Parliament last week reached a provisional agreement on rules regulating the life cycle of a battery, from production to reuse and recycling. The rules, originally proposed by the European Commission in late 2020, are aimed at all batteries, not just for EVs.

The rules set a number of targets, including a requirement for manufacturers to collect waste batteries from light means of transport, starting at 51% by the end of 2028 and moving to 61% by the end of 2031. Batteries also need to be replaceable, which will help EVs stay on the road for longer.

There are also more specific targets, like the need to recover 50% of lithium from waste EV batteries by 2027 and 80% by 2031. Another key target is the minimum level of recycled materials used in EV batteries. These are to be initially set at 16% for cobalt, 85% for lead, 6% for lithium and 6% for nickel, though a date hasn’t been mentioned.

There will also be new labeling requirements, including recycled content documentation.

“The new rules will promote the competitiveness of European industry and ensure that end-of-life batteries will be properly collected and recycled so that useful materials are recovered and toxic substances are not released into the environment,” Marian Jurečka, the Czech minister of the environment, said in a statement.

To pass into law, the rules now need to be endorsed and formally adopted by both the European Council and European Parliament.



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