9 September 2021
By Tom Collins
THE EU now has an opportunity to become a world leader in battery cell production to meet demand but this must be done in a safe, circular and sustainable way. This is according to Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune who will be involved in discussions on the matter in the European Parliament this week.
Batteries are a key technology in the transition to climate neutrality and the demand for batteries is increasing rapidly and is set to increase 14 fold by 2030. This has been mostly driven by electric transport, an increasingly important strategic global market. This growth in demand will lead to an equivalent increase in demand for raw materials, such as cobalt or lithium, which will have a significant environmental impact. The growing use of batteries will also lead to increased amounts of waste.
The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection is calling for the EU to prioritise and future-proof the sustainable production of batteries in order to address these problems in their initial response to the European Commission’s new proposed Regulation on sustainable batteries intended to replace the existing out-of-date legislation dating back to 2006.
MEP Clune said: “Europe has the potential to become home to a world leading industry in battery production as more batteries become needed, especially for electric vehicles. To ensure that this meets the goals of the green transition, batteries must be produced with the lowest possible environmental impact, using materials obtained in full respect of human rights and social standards. Batteries have to be long-lasting and safe, and at the end of their life, they should ideally be repurposed, remanufactured or recycled, so that we can put valuable materials back into the economy.”
The Commission’s new proposal suggests mandatory legally binding requirements on sustainability and safety for hazardous materials; labelling and information; end of life management for batteries to increase rates of recycling or re-use as well as due diligence requirements for producers.
In their meeting, the members of the IMCO committee broadly supported the Commission’s goals but called on them to go further and strictly enforce a level playing field, also for products of manufacturers established outside the EU. Making the point that setting high environmental and social standards, for example through supply chain due diligence rules, enables companies that manufacture batteries in the EU to compete on more elements than price alone.