New EU Battery Regulation published in the Official Journal ‒ important rules for the growing battery market
The new Regulation concerning batteries and waste batteries (Regulation (EU) No 2023/1542) (hereinafter the “Regulation”) has now, shortly before the summer break, been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The majority of the provisions will apply from 18 February 2024 and, by 2027, have gradually replaced the previous requirements under the Battery Directive, which was implemented in Germany pursuant to the Battery Act.
The new Regulation is considerably more comprehensive than the previous directive. For example, there are now 15 Annexes and the number of articles has more than tripled. Particularly in terms of its content, the Regulation contains numerous new or more far-reaching provisions. In the following, some of the most important provisions in practice will be highlighted.
- Instead of the previous three battery types (portable, automotive and industrial batteries), the Regulation now provides for five battery types: portable batteries, batteries for light transport vehicles such as e-bikes (also referred to as LMT batteries), electric vehicle batteries, industrial batteries and starting, lighting and ignition batteries (SLI batteries). In this way, the EU is responding to the growing importance of electromobility and creating legal certainty by adding a separate category of electric vehicle battery. In addition, by renaming automotive batteries SLI batteries, the EU has eliminated conceptual ambiguities.
- The Regulation now regulates batteries throughout their entire life cycle, i.e. from production to reuse and recycling. The plan is for the battery industry to also develop into a circular economy. In particular, the requirements for the batteries themselves were previously only set out in broad terms. For example, in order to ensure the reduction of CO2 in relation to electric vehicle batteries, LMT batteries and certain rechargeable industrial batteries, it will now be necessary to provide a carbon footprint declaration. The requirements for the information in the declaration will be gradually tightened and finally result in maximum values (see Article 7). In addition, the Regulation introduces requirements for the durability and performance of batteries (Articles 9 and 10). Furthermore, industrial and electric vehicle batteries with a capacity above 2 kWh, LMT batteries and stationary battery energy storage systems will have to have a battery management system. This is an electronic component which, among other things, can control and monitor the battery, store data and enable communication with the vehicle (see Article 14). The manufacturers of the batteries will be primarily responsible for compliance with these obligations. In the future, the manufacturer must be distinguished conceptually from the producer. The latter term covers not only the actual manufacturer of a battery, but also the distributor or importer subject to further conditions.
- The conformity assessment procedure for obtaining a CE marking as well as the corresponding obligations of the economic operators with regard to batteries are now set forth in detail in the Regulation.
- In the future, economic operators of batteries whose turnover is at least €40 million will have to fulfil certain due diligence obligations, e.g. with regard to the raw materials used for the batteries (Article 47 ff.). This will include, for example, the introduction of a risk management system and the disclosure of information. An independent notified body will be responsible for verifying that producers fulfil their obligations.
- The area of (extended) producer responsibility, which is familiar from the Battery Act and the registration, collection and recycling obligations contained therein, is also regulated in greater detail (Article 54 ff.). In some cases, national legislation will continue to be required with regard to implementation. It can be assumed that the German foundation that maintains a record of all electronic equipment placed on the market (stiftung ear) will continue to be responsible for performing this task.
- In addition, the mandatory collection targets for portable batteries will be gradually increased (Article 59). The Regulation also introduces collection targets for LMT batteries (Article 60). The recycling and recovery targets for certain raw materials are also being gradually increased (see Annex XII).
- Finally, as from 2027, each LMT battery, each industrial battery with a capacity greater than 2 kWh and each electric vehicle battery will have to have a battery passport (Article 77 ff.). This will, for example, have to contain information relating to the battery model so as to enable tracing.
- From the consumer’s point of view – and consequently also for all producers and distributors – the provisions in Article 11 are likely to be the most interesting: Thus, beginning in 2027, end-users will have to be able to remove and replace all portable batteries installed in appliances, such as mobile phone batteries.
These brief highlights show that all market players in the battery industry will face new, far-reaching obligations as a result of the new Battery Regulation. For the companies concerned, this means that they should carefully review their existing processes, production and procurement in order to be adequately prepared for the new European battery law.