New EU Battery Regulation – What does it mean in practice?
The new EU battery regulation is part of The European Green Deal. It focuses on creating a circular economy for battery minerals in Europe. In addition, it improves the safety and performance of batteries. At the end of 2022, a compromise was reached between the EU Commission, Council and Parliament. In January 2023, the full text was published. The regulation is expected to enter into force at the beginning of summer 2023, with transition periods between 12 and 36 months for most requirements. This article explains what the new EU battery regulation means for those operating with batteries.
The most significant changes in the new EU battery regulation
For professional battery users, the most significant changes are the following:
- Performance and durability requirements for both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries
- It will be mandatory to design for the removability and replaceability of portable batteries
- Extensive labelling requirements for all batteries
- QR code on all batteries with link to technical data
- EU declaration of conformity and CE marking
- Due Diligence obligations for economic operators that place batteries on the market. Obligation concerns manufacturers, importers and distributors, but also companies that import batteries for use in their own products or operations. Only small companies are excluded from these obligations.
- Mandatory conformity assessment by the manufacturer, including requirements for internal production controls and quality assurance, verified by a notified body (3rd party)
- Green public battery procurement procedure for public tenders (also for equipment with incorporated batteries)
- Repurposing and remanufacturing of used batteries (second life)
- Tighter waste battery collection targets and minimum requirements for recycling efficiency and material recovery
Figure 1: New EU Battery Regulation – What does it mean in practice?
EU regulation requirements for large batteries
The new regulation has specific requirements for rechargeable industrial batteries with a capacity above 2 kWh, light means of transport (LMT) batteries and electric vehicle (EV) batteries. These requirements are not only valid for large li-ion batteries but also for stationary lead-acid and NiCd batteries with capacities starting as low as 170 Ah @ 12 V.
- Carbon footprint: Declarations and performance class markings mandatory on battery
- Documented minimum share of recycled cobalt, lead, lithium and nickel raw materials
- Digital Battery Passport, accessible through the QR code on the battery
- Verified and documented electrotechnical performance and durability parameters
- Collection and recycling of industrial batteries need to be handled similarly to the consumer batteries today, including a free-of-charge nationwide collection network. This differs from the current EU Battery Directive, where the producer and buyer of industrial batteries can agree on where to return the batteries and how to share the recycling costs. In practice, the new regulation requires a local Producer Responsibility Organisation that takes care of the collection network and recycling of large industrial li-ion batteries. Celltech is taking an active role in setting up such a collection and recycling scheme in Finland.
- Specific safety tests required for stationary battery energy storage systems, including fire tests. Documentation that the stationary storage system is compliant must be available already 12 months after entry into force of the regulation.
- The regulation emphasises the role of applicable CEN, CENELEC and IEC standards to validate the requirements in the regulation
Due diligence requirement in the new EU battery regulation
- The economic operator that places batteries of any type on the market shall comply with the due diligence obligations for battery minerals already within 24 months after entry into force of the regulation. Please note that economic operators include manufacturers, importers, and distributors, as well as companies that import batteries for use in their own products or operations.
- The economic operator must adapt its management system to support a due diligence policy. For example, it must identify from which mine, which refinery and which smelter the battery minerals used are from unless a recognised third party already verifies the upstream supplier.
- The operator shall design a risk management plan and, if needed, exert pressure on suppliers and their supply chain. It shall consider suspending or discontinuing engagement with a supplier after failed mitigation. Suppose the operator continues trade while pursuing risk mitigation efforts. In that case, it shall not only consult with suppliers but also with local and national government authorities, international or civil society organisations and affected third parties such as local communities.
- The economic operator shall have its due diligence policies and system verified by a third party, a so-called notified body. It shall disclose information to relevant parties and publish an annual public review of its due diligence policies, findings and steps taken, including a summary of third-party verifications.
- Smaller companies with an annual turnover of less than 40 million EUR are excluded from this requirement. The turnover is calculated on a group level, not for an individual subsidiary. This compromise was reached after the Commission originally proposed due diligence only for large batteries, and the Parliament pushed to extend this to all batteries. This compromise, unfortunately, puts companies in somewhat different positions. Furthermore, in many European countries, a significant share of industrial batteries from outside the EU is imported by SME organisations. This volume is now excluded from these obligations.
- The customers must now choose whether to buy batteries from a smaller company without any due diligence processes or from a sustainable company that takes care of the due diligence obligations. We believe many customers working for a more sustainable world will make the right choice.
- Many equipment manufacturers and service producers will likely refrain from importing batteries themselves in the future to avoid the need to set up their own battery due diligence scheme.
Please get in touch with us if you need sustainable, future-proof batteries that will fulfil the new EU battery regulation.