European Union officially adopts law requiring replaceable batteries

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The Council of the European Union has approved a bill to regulate the entire life cycle of batteries. All legislative bodies of the European Union have now approved the new battery law in principle.

The law should ensure that batteries for portable electronics in the European Union should become removable and replaceable by the end user. In principle, this obligation will come into effect from 2027. The EU writes: “A battery in consumer electronics is replaceable if it can be removed by the end user using freely available tools and without specialized tools, unless these tools are supplied free of charge.” Even if the use of heat or solvents is required, the battery cannot be regarded as replaceable.

The EU also makes a few exceptions, because devices specifically intended for use in or near water do not have to use a replaceable battery. Even if a permanent connection between the battery and the rest of the device is essential, manufacturers do not have to adhere to the relevant rules.

Furthermore, after the law comes into effect, batteries must consist largely of recycled raw materials. For example, industrial batteries and EV batteries must use 16, 85, 6 and 6 percent of recycled materials respectively when using cobalt, lead, lithium and nickel. Also specifically, 50 percent of all lithium in discarded batteries must be recycled from the end of 2027. This will increase to 80 percent by the end of 2031.

To enforce these recycling requirements, the European Union introduces so-called due diligence rules. Manufacturers must verify the origin of raw materials for batteries. The EU makes an exception for small and medium-sized businesses.

The law must be signed by the European Parliament and the European Commission after the approval of the Council of the European Union. The Commission proposed the law at the end of 2020 and Parliament approved the bill last month. Once signed, the law has been officially adopted by the three legislative bodies of the European Union and can be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. After publication, the law will officially come into effect after twenty days. The law will probably be introduced this summer.

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