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The devil will be in the detail…

Eramet's Sophie Lebouil updated delegates on electric car battery recycling plans.

The EU’s new Battery Regulation was barely dry on the page when the 2023 International Congress for Battery Recycling was staged in Valencia, offering an early opportunity for recyclers to consider the new regime.

The implications of the EU’s new batteries regulation were firmly to the fore at the International Congress for Battery Recycling (ICBR) in Valencia, Spain. For those operating within members states, the focus is now on the practical aspects as the European Commission prepares a range of secondary legislation. For those outside the EU, interest centres on how the regulation will impact their businesses.

It’s most definitely a growing sector, 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.

The goal 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.

Pioneering solutions

It is a pioneering and comprehensive regulation. For the first time, the Commission is setting out expectations for the entire life cycle of a product: from design to end-of-life. The 2023 regulation which entered into force on 17 August has more than 100 pages and the secondary legislation is expected to require an extra 600. Measures will be phased over the next 13 years.

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.’

DG Environment representative Rana Pant told a panel on the second day that ‘any regulation can give details only to a certain extent’ and he invited delegates to contribute to the evolving rules. ‘The targets and timing can be seen as challenging but I am pleased to see industry meeting those challenges,’ he said.

‘European Industry is in a good position to make it work and the previous directive gives you a head start.’

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