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Why global leader in sustainable materials EMR supports the EU Council’s new battery and waste battery regulation

Olivia Healey

Helen Waters headshot

The news that the European Council has adopted a new regulation on batteries and waste batteries is an important step in creating greener, more sustainable supply chains for a technology that will be vital in the transition away from fossil fuels.

“Delivering a truly circular supply chain for batteries of all kinds requires manufacturers and recyclers to work together, share information and collaborate on new processes and technology – this new regulation will help to achieve this,”

— Helen Waters, Head of Electric Battery Recycling at EMR.

The regulation sets targets in several areas which, together, will dramatically improve the effectiveness and transparency of battery recycling:

  • Collection: By the end of 2027, battery producers must collect 63% of end-of-life batteries (rising to 73% by the end of 2030). The regulation also introduces a dedicated collection objective for waste batteries from e-bikes and e-scooters of 51% by the end of 2028 and 61% by the end of 2031.
  • Recovery: A new target for lithium recovery from waste batteries of 50% by the end of 2027 has been introduced, rising to 80% by the end of 2031. This can be amended depending on market and technological developments and the availability of lithium.
  • Recycled content: The changes include mandatory minimum levels of recycled content for industrial, SLI and electric vehicle (EV) batteries. These are initially set at 16% for cobalt, 85% for lead, 6% for lithium and 6% for nickel. New recycled content documentation will be required to confirm this.
  • Efficiency: The regulation sets a recycling efficiency target for nickel-cadmium batteries of 80% by the end of 2025, and 50% for other waste batteries on the same timescale.
  • Due diligence: The EU Council has also introduced tight rules for most battery producers whereby they must verify the source of their raw materials to reduce any “environmental and social impacts throughout the lifecycle of the battery”.

Labelling and information requirements – via a mandatory battery passport and QR code – will then provide information on a battery's components and recycled content by 2026 and 2027, respectively.

“The good news is that, for EMR, these new standards for battery recycling are in line with our plans and expectations,” says Waters. “Whether it is the growing supply of waste electronics (WEEE) arriving at our depots or the emerging challenge of sustainably recycling EV batteries, EMR is already investing to out-perform the minimum standards set out by the EU in the years ahead.”

This work includes RECOVAS, a unique partnership, part-funded by the Government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre,which brings together automotive manufacturers, such as Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and Bentley – alongside EMR, Autocraft Solutions, Connected Energy and the University of Warwick – to deliver an innovative circular supply chain for EV batteries.

So why, in that case, is it so important that new minimum standards have been agreed?

“On one level, this is about making sure that all companies involved in battery recycling meet the same, or similar, standards and that those, like EMR, who are doing the right thing aren’t competing with firms who are either unsustainable or cutting corners.

“In addition, the increased information that batteries will now have to carry will improve the traceability that we can provide our customers with, as well as ensure we’re able to recycle these batteries in the most efficient and effective way possible,” says Waters.

The new regulation also means manufacturers and recyclers will have access to the data they require to create a circular economy that – as the EU Council says – will help member states safeguard “valuable resources” and cut carbon emissions.

“For EMR, this is a great signal that we’re already on the right track and it’s going to give our teams even more encouragement to improve the way that batteries – however big or small – are recycled at our facilities,” Waters says.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is a ‘win-win’ for manufacturers, recyclers and policymakers and we look forward to similar legislation being introduced by other markets in the future. We are pleased that the UK is working to implement parallel battery regulations. Of course, however any UK regulations develop, UK recycling will still need to match EU regulations for any material that does not remain in the UK.”