10 December 2020

New EU rules for sustainable batteries set us in the right direction – but we must ensure high technical ambition – ECOS press release

The European Commission has launched new rules to make batteries more durable, repairable and reusable as part of its proposal for a Batteries Regulation. If approved, the EU would be the first market in the world with dedicated legislation on sustainability and circularity of all batteries – an unprecedented step towards climate neutrality.

Today, the European Commission has launched two proposals with the potential to greatly improve the sustainability batteries for all kinds of products: a new Batteries Regulation. 

The proposals on the table set increased targets for the collection and recycling of batteries, aligned with the EU circular economy ambition. The rules will also include requirements for electric-vehicle battery performance and durability, and provisions facilitating repair, repurposing for second-life applications and recycling.

To make batteries more sustainable, the EU proposes to introduce a battery passport both for electric vehicles and industrial energy storage, clarify the responsibilities of producers across the value chain, and set information requirements on carbon footprint of batteries.

However, several aspects remain a matter of concern. The Commission plans for an obligation to use recycled content in new batteries to be in force in 10 years’ time – but these requirements are disappointingly unambitious and come too late for the EU to reduce its dependence on imported raw materials. Proposals also foresee recovery targets of 70% for lithium by 2030, but this threshold is too low to enable a circular EV market.

To become effective in real terms, these rules need to be underpinned by robust technical standards and methodology, including performance and durability aspects as well as reuse and repurposing of rechargeable batteries. These will be decided in industry-led EU standardisation organisations CEN and CENELEC, as well as the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC).

Rita Tedesco, Programme Manager at ECOS, said:

‘The electrification of transport is an important step forward, but we should not embrace it with our eyes closed. We are pleased to see the European Commission’s ambition for Europe to have the world’s most sustainable battery industry, but more can be done to ensure batteries are reused after their first life and properly recycled. We will remain vigilant: most of the technical aspects that will make these ambitions a reality will be decided by standardisation organisations and ECOS will work to make sure they do not hinder the Commission’s ambition.’

Piotr Barczak, a Policy Officer for the Circular Economy with the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said:

“The proposal is the way forward to reduce the environmental impact and downside risks of our increasingly electrified economy. However, we would have expected a higher target for recycled content in batteries. The proposed 2030 targets of 4% for nickel and lithium, and 12% for cobalt are way too low considering that the industry itself is ready to go beyond those targets today’.


Press contact: Ivo Cabral – ivo.cabral@ecostandard.org 

For more information, read the most recent ECOS papers on the batteries and sustainable mobility:

The Positive Side of Batteries – The Role of Standards In Supporting Sustainability Requirements for Batteries

Moving Up A Gear – ECOS Vision of Clean and Smart Mobility Supported by Environmentally Ambitious Standards 

About ECOS

We are an environmental NGO with a network of members and experts advocating for environmentally ambitious technical standards, policies, and laws. We ensure the environmental voice is heard at the table where these standards, policies, and laws are developed, challenging policymakers and industry players to implement strong environmental principles.

ECOS is co-funded by the European Commission and EFTA

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