On 28 July 2023, Regulation (EU) 2023/1542 concerning batteries and waste batteries (“Batteries Regulation“) was published in the Official Journal. The new Regulation repeals and replaces the existing Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC) and seeks to make all batteries placed on the EU market more durable, safe, sustainable, and efficient. It takes the extended producer responsibility (EPR) regime created by the existing Directive and expands it significantly through the introduction of more detailed mandatory design, content and conformity assessment requirements aimed at ensuring the sustainability and circularity of batteries. It also introduces new mandatory supply chain due diligence requirements from August 2025 to address the social and environmental risks inherent in the extraction, processing and trading of certain raw materials and secondary raw materials used in battery manufacturing.
The new legislation is a key initiative of the European Green Deal and is the first Circular Economy Action Plan legislation covering the entire life-cycle of a product to be adopted.
Scope of application
Under the new Regulation, all categories of batteries that are placed on the EU market, or which are put into service within the EU, will be regulated, irrespective of where they are manufactured. This includes the types of batteries found in ordinary consumer goods (i.e., “portable” batteries), electric vehicle (EV) batteries, industrial batteries, starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) and batteries for electric bikes, mopeds and e-scooters (i.e., light means of transport or LMT batteries). There are very limited exceptions covering, for example, batteries in equipment designed to be sent into space.
Key features of the regulation
- Due diligence obligations to address social and environmental risks
Companies placing batteries on the EU market will need to declare that any materials used during manufacturing were sourced responsibly. Therefore, social and environmental risks arising during extraction, processing, and trading raw materials for battery manufacturing will need to be both identified and mitigated. From August 2025 companies will need to put in place battery due diligence policies and have them verified by a notified body and periodically audited. There is an exemption for businesses with a turnover of less than EUR 40 million.
- Batteries used in consumer goods will need to be designed in such a way that consumers can easily remove and replace them
Portable batteries will be considered readily removable by the end-user where they can be removed from a product using commercially available tools and without requiring the use of specialized tools (unless provided with the product) or thermal energy or solvents to disassemble the product. This requirement will apply from February 2027 and impact all consumer electrical goods using batteries subject to narrow exemptions e.g., for certain products that need to be waterproof. Manufacturers will need to ensure availability of replacement batteries for five years after the relevant product ceases to be made available.
- All batteries will need to be “CE marked” and meet labelling requirements
The Regulation expands the existing CE marking regime to include batteries for the first time with CE marking requirements applying from 18 August 2024. Batteries will also need to be labelled with capacity/duration, the crossed-out wheeled bin symbol, heavy metal content, a QR code linking to mandatory information as well as details of the manufacturer (and importer).
- Recycled content minimum requirements for industrial, EV and certain automotive batteries
Manufacturers will need to meet minimum percentage thresholds for recycled content in industrial, EV and certain automotive batteries:
- From August 2031: 16% for cobalt, 85% for lead, 6% for lithium, and 6% for nickel
- From August 2036: 26% for cobalt; 85% for lead; 12% for lithium, and 15% for nickel
- Digital passports and carbon footprint declarations
Rechargeable industrial batteries with a capacity above 2kWh, EV and light means of transport (LMT) batteries will require a digital battery passport accessible via the battery’s QR code before being placed on the EU market. This passport will include a declaration of the battery’s carbon footprint, meaning that businesses will be required to collate data from along their supply chains. This is the first time that product passports have been made mandatory under EU law and they will become more widely required under the proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation.
Additionally, EV, rechargeable industrial and LMT batteries will be required to have carbon intensity performance class labels based on the battery’s carbon footprint declaration. The impact of a battery’s lifecycle will need to be assessed to ensure it meets the maximum carbon footprint threshold.
- A more coherent EPR framework
From August 2025 the new Regulation will introduce a more harmonised framework for EPR requirements across the EU. The existing Directive lacked detail on critical EPR concepts leading to uneven implementation between different Member States. The new rules, including the more detailed “producer” definition, should help ensure a more consistent implementation for businesses operating in multiple Member States. Businesses will still, however, need to comply with EPR obligations on a Member State by Member State basis.
- Stricter targets for waste collection, recycling efficiency, and material recovery
The Regulation aims to ensure that batteries become more sustainable throughout their entire lifecycle. This includes an increase in recycling, which starts with the collection of batteries. Higher waste battery collection targets will be introduced over time, for example:
- For portable batteries: 45% by the end of 2023; 63% by the end of 2027; and 73% by the end of 2030
- For LMT batteries: 51% by the end of 2028 and 61% by the end of 2031
All collected batteries will need to be recycled, and high levels of recovery must be achieved, especially for valuable materials such as copper, cobalt, lithium, nickel, and lead. The following targets for minimum recovery of materials recovered from waste batteries will need to be met:
- Lithium: 50% by the end of 2027 and 80% by the end of 2031
- Cobalt, copper, lead and nickel: 90% by the end of 2027 and 95% by the end of 2031
The Batteries Regulation introduces significant and ambitious new requirements covering manufacturing, design, labelling, collection and recycling throughout the entire life-cycle of batteries.
Manufacturers, producers, importers and distributors of batteries, should start planning now for the significant impact of these requirements on their businesses. Notably, certain provisions, have relatively short implementation deadlines with, for example, CE marking required in little over a year’s time. Other requirements will only become applicable over a number of years. Its application is broad applying to all batteries placed on the market in the EU.