Two and a half years after the publication of the European Commission’s initial legislative proposal, and after several negotiation rounds with the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, the regulation concerning batteries and waste batteries has been officially published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The regulation replaces the previous Batteries Directive and is adapted to the changing battery landscape by providing for five battery types, adding two new categories to the previous three:
- light means of transport (LMT) – New
- electric vehicle (EV) – New
- industrial, and
- starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) – previously automotive
Furthermore, these batteries are now regulated throughout their entire lifecycle, from sourcing to end of life, introducing new obligations such as a carbon footprint declaration, minimum recycled content, an EU Declaration of Conformity (with a related conformity procedure), a digital battery passport and new end-user information requirements, including labelling.
While the new policy has been published as a regulation, it has a “dual legal base”. Most obligations, such as those for the conformity procedure and design aspects, have been fully harmonised across the EU, addressing varying rules currently existing in the Member States. However, chapter VIII of the regulation – “Management of waste batteries” – enables Member States to provide for additional measures.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) plays a central role throughout the regulation. The policy has been updated to reflect the EPR minimum requirements of the EU waste framework directive and stricter collection targets have been introduced for portable batteries: 63% by 2027 and 73% by 2030. Collection targets for the new category of LMR batteries have also been set to 51% by 2028 and 61% by 2031.
Moreover, the Commission has a mandate to amend the methodology to calculate the collection rate, considering the development of the market and the expected increase in the lifetime of batteries (by 2027).
For SLI, industrial and EV batteries, producers need to ensure separate collection of waste batteries free of charge to the end user, while no collection targets are set. A producer established in another Member State or in a third country shall appoint (by written mandate) an authorised representative for EPR in each Member State where it sells batteries.
The regulation will apply from 18 February 2024 and repeals the existing Batteries Directive with effect from 18 August 2025. The provisions with regard to the management of waste batteries shall apply from 18 August 2025.