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Battery recyclers consider impact of new EU regulation

The implications of the EU’s new batteries regulation were central to discussions at the recent  International Congress for Battery Recycling (ICBR) in Valencia, Spain.

There was general agreement that this was a major initiative for a key product of the future. Julian Prölß, director of business management battery recycling at chemical giant BASF, spoke for many in looking ahead to how the various aspects of the regulation will be implemented: ‘It’s a complex framework – how it is enforced is important.’

Jan Tytgat, director of EU government affairs for Umicore, called it a good piece of legislation. ‘It’s up to all of us to work on the secondary regulation so that the goals of sustainability and a completion are supported.’

The growth in interest in batteries was reflected in the record nearly 600 delegates attending the annual ICM event. Global demand for batteries is set to increase 14 times by 2030 and the EU is likely to account for 17% of that demand.

For the first time, the European Commission is setting out expectations for the entire life cycle of a product: from design to end-of-life. The 2023 regulation entered into force on 17 August and measures will be phased over the next 13 years.

The goal of the regulation is for new batteries being placed on the market to have a low carbon footprint, use minimal harmful substances, require fewer raw materials from non-EU countries, and to be collected, reused and recycled to a high degree within Europe.

EC ready to deliver

Keynote speaker Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, director of circular economy for the Commission, called it a seminal moment. He said the approach combined sustainability – setting the EU apart from other jurisdictions – with competitiveness. ‘We want European manufacturers and industries, and their global partners, to develop and grow without being isolationist,’ he said. ‘Some timings appear challenging – and they are – but we are ready at the EC to deliver them. We are not in the business of dreams but of delivering reality.’

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