European Union

Measures introduced affect company value chains and sectors such as waste management and energy

New EU regulation on batteries
February 22, 2024

On August 17, Regulation 2023/1542 of the European Parliament and of the Council of July 12, 2023, concerning the sustainability, safety, labeling and information requirements of batteries and waste batteries, repealing Directive 2008/66/EC, was introduced (“the Regulation”).

The replacement of the former directive with the Regulation, applied since February 18, 2024, will enable a uniform application of the new requirements for batteries to all economic operators in the European Union, as Member States are not required to transpose the regulation into their respective internal legal systems.

The Regulation is aimed at: (i) promoting the circular economy, (ii) reducing the impacts of batteries on the environment and on human health, and (iii) contributing to the efficient functioning of the internal market and improving the EU’s strategic autonomy. 

The new regulatory framework covers the entire life cycle of batteries, establishing obligations for all operators. Below we highlight the following new developments introduced by the Regulation.

New categories of batteries: the Regulation extends the scope of application of the law to new technologies and business models, including the following:

  • batteries for electric vehicles (“EV”),
  • light means of transport (“LMT”) batteries,
  • starting, lighting and ignition (“SLI”) batteries (“SLI”),
  • portable batteries weighing 5 kg or less, and
  •  industrial batteries.

New developments in labeling and information requirements: measures are introduced to ensure the availability of key information (e.g., characteristics, carbon footprint, expected lifetime and recycled content) to enable decision-making by consumers and professionals over the course of the value chain.

  • Digital passport for industrial batteries: this will apply to all LMT and EV batteries, and to industrial batteries with a capacity greater than 2 kWh, placed on the market or put into service from February 18, 2027. Also, the batteries must include QR codes on their labeling, which provide access to the battery product passport and to other information.
  • Carbon footprint declaration: this will apply to EV batteries (from February 18, 2025), LMT batteries (from August 18, 2028) and rechargeable industrial batteries (from February 18, 2026; from August 18, 2030 in the case of rechargeable industrial batteries with external storage), which will be calculated in line with Annex II. For these purposes, it is expected that the European Commission will establish carbon footprint thresholds. 

Re-use and recycling of batteries: minimum levels of battery recycling efficiency are established, as well as minimum percentages for recovery of the materials, which will apply from 2025. All this is to ensure that waste batteries are prepared to: (i) be re-used for the same purpose, or (ii) be adapted for a different purpose to the original purpose for which they were manufactured (e.g., industrial or EV batteries that are adapted to be used as stationary energy storage batteries).  

Therefore, the following measures are introduced:

  • Collection targets have been increased to 63% by 2027 and to 73% by 2030 for portable batteries; in the case of LMT batteries, collection targets have been set at 51% by 2028 and at 61% by 2031.
  • A new definition of “producer,” which is extended to equipment rental and leasing, and sales on electronic platforms and on second-life battery markets.
  • The obligation to recycle battery waste, and the prohibition of their disposal or recovery.
  • The establishing of minimum levels of recycled content, with a focus on recovering raw materials: cobalt, copper, lead, lithium and nickel. All EV and SLI batteries, and industrial batteries—with a capacity greater than 2 kWh—must contain minimum contents of critical raw materials from August 18, 2031.

Green public procurement: award criteria are introduced in procurement procedures for the acquisition of batteries and products containing batteries, in relation to guaranteeing minimum environmental impacts over their life cycle and sustainability criteria.

Safety requirements: the use of certain hazardous substances is prohibited in the manufacture of batteries, gradually eliminating substances such as mercury, cadmium and lead. This measure has strong implications for product safety, public health and the reduction of environmental pollution. 

The measures under the Regulation are both a challenge and an opportunity for operators in the battery market, as they involve adaptation of their processes for designing, manufacturing, marketing, using and managing batteries.

The above is in line with the EU’s extensive reform concerning sustainability and circularity, implemented through other European regulations, e.g., waste, due diligence, eco-design, critical raw materials.

February 22, 2024