Mandatory Carbon Footprint as a Part of the New Strategic Approach for Sustainable Life Cycles of Batteries
By taking a look at possible future scenarios, batteries are inevitable in numerous use cases. In our daily lives at home, we use batteries in smartphones, in our living rooms or remote controls and kitchen equipment. As a major part of the transition from burning fossil fuels to the use of renewable energies in the automobile industry, sustainable batteries are crucial. The need for batteries will face an unseen market growth, up to 14 times as much as today until 2030. The European Union is set to become the second biggest global market for batteries and battery production. This means a rapid demand for resources, as seen in Figure 1 (Sustainable batteries in their full life-cycle (europa.eu)):
To reduce the EU-market`s dependency on global virgin materials and moreover the environmental and social impacts of their extraction, the circular economy action plan of the EU sets a scale and mandatory requirements to push corporations forward.
Modernised EU Legislation on Batteries according to the Circular Economy Action Plan
The European Commission proposed in their Circular Economy Action Plan back in December 2020 that a modernisation of the EU`s legislation on batteries, regarding their sustainable life cycle, is a key factor of the goals of the European Green Deal. Launched particularly for that reason, the European Battery Alliance will follow the new strategic approach to batteries. To reach the goal of climate neutrality it is necessary to focus on green transport options, provided by clean energy and a clean holistic life cycle of batteries.
Therefore, requirements for sustainable batteries on the European Union`s market are sustainability, high-performance and a safe life cycle, under the following circumstances:
- High production aspects according to minimize the environmental impact
- High production standards of environmental and social governance criteria
- Resources, materials and products must be long lasting and safe:
- under a restricted use of hazardous substances
- with a minimum content of recycled materials
- and providing high performance, durability, safety parameters
- with official labelling and information of relevant data
Summed up, with a comprehensive end-of-life management the batteries need to be able to be repairable, reusable, recyclable and given the opportunity for other purpose. Producers will have to face responsibility in terms of the recycling efficiency and recovered materials, such as cobalt, lithium, lead and nickel. Therefore, a legal certainty of the EU`s action plan is required to achieve more control and transparency of the fast-growing market and provide safety for investments in sustainable innovative battery solutions. With the help of these safe and green technologies on the batterie market, the EU also aims to change the energy mix towards more renewable sources.
Mandatory Carbon Footprint from 1 July 2024
Minimising the environmental impact needs a proper and valid base to begin with. Hence, the EU`s proposal is scheduling a mandatory carbon footprint for rechargeable industrial and electric vehicle batteries with internal storage, starting on the first of July 2024. Otherwise, batteries will not be granted access to the European market. All future requirements of a carbon footprint will need an official third-party verification in form of a due diligence procedure, such as the percentage of recycled material or the environmental and social responsibilities whilst mining relevant resources.
All existing restrictions for batteries regarding the use of hazardous substances will be kept as they are. On top of that, even more actions are planned for the mentioned batteries in the new proposal:
- Starting 01/2026:
- necessary carbon intensity performance class label
- required battery passport (electronic information exchange system) for industrial battery and electric-vehicle batteries
- development of more minimum requirements
- for performance and durability of portable batteries of general use (rechargeable and not rechargeable) and rechargeable industrial batteries
- on battery removability – new product designs must ensure an easy removal of waste batteries
- on replaceability – devices and appliances must ensure to continue performing and functioning after batterie replacement
- on safety measures – only fully tested safe stationary energy storage systems can enter the EU market
- Starting 01/2027:
- introduction of a maximum carbon footprint and a declaration of the recycled content for industrial and electric-vehicle batteries with internal storage: disclosure of the content of recycled cobalt, lithium and nickel
- labelling and information necessary for the identification of batteries and their main substances
- Starting 01/2030: industrial and electric-vehicle batteries with internal storage will then need a mandatory minimum of recycled content of 12% cobalt, 85% lead, 4% lithium and 4% nickel
- Starting 01/2035: increasing level of the recycled content to 20% cobalt, 10% lithium and 12% nickel
These new provisions and their compliance by corporations will be enabled through market surveillance authorities in each EU member state. Regardless of the country of production, the importer or distributor of the batteries will be held accountable as soon as entering the European market. A combined implementation of the methodology of a circular economy and a sustainable end-of-life concept is crucial on the path to carbon neutrality. Consequently, the proposed regulations of the action plan aim to harmonise minimum requirements and close the gap to a complete sustainable supply chain ecosystem of battery manufacturing in Europe.
In March 2021 the German Federal Ministry for Economy and Energy (BMWi) published a call for funding regarding the research for battery cell production to boost innovation along the whole battery value chain. Sustainability and digitalisation as the main drivers will focus on efficient material and energy use as well as concepts for recycling and a second use of batteries. To achieve a sustainable and resource-saving circular economy, the carbon footprint of batteries must cover a cradle-to-cradle approach.
For more information on the Carbon Footprint of corporations and to ensure a valid base to foster and strengthen a sustainable strategy from the scratch, take a look at the DFGE solution. If you have further questions, please contact us via or by phone at +49 8192-99733-20.