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India includes lithium ion batteries in sustainability drive

India has issued a proposed legislative framework for the waste management and recycling of lithium ion and nickel cadmium batteries which are not currently covered by existing rules.

The draft Battery Waste Management Rules from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is being circulated among industry stakeholders. It expands the categories of batteries to include those using lithium ion, nickel cadmium, alkaline and mercury.

The new legislation mandates extended producer responsibility (EPR), waste collection centres, targets for take-back schemes, guidelines for recyclers and data reporting. It was originally drafted last year but implementation was delayed by the pandemic.

According to MoEFCC, the new legal framework is needed because India’s existing battery regulations cover only lead acid batteries while e-waste legislation has no specific mention of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs).

The new legislation will lay down the responsibilities of the manufacturer, importer or assembler of batteries. Every EPR will have to register for certification at either federal or state level. Every battery manufacturer will also need EPR authorisation within three months of starting operations or face penalties.

Production, sale and recycling of any battery containing more than 0.0005% of mercury by weight or exceeding 0.00023% of cadmium by weight will be prohibited.

The proposed legislation is an attempt to establish a regime for lithium-ion batteries in anticipation of rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in India and the resulting end-of-life batteries. India is entirely dependant on imported lithium and extracting the metal through recycling is seen as critical to establishing domestic battery manufacturing.

The Society of Manufacturers’ of Electric Vehicles says there are about 250 000 EVs on Indian roads at present and the lithium ion battery market is expanding at a compounded growth rate of 37% per annum.

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