Electric cars, bikes and scooters, but also smartphones, tablets and computers. Batteries are now everywhere, all around us and silently becoming part of our daily lives. But above all, they are the key to the transition away from fossil fuels.

Europe is therefore striving to become independent of Asia, the continent that currently supplies most of the raw materials and finished batteries. The EU's two latest initiatives are Battery Regulation and the Critical Raw Materials Act. Let's find out about them.

From production to recycling

The first initiative is a regulation that was finally approved in July 2023 and came into force last February. It provides for a series of regulations covering the entire life cycle of batteries: from production to recycling, including use and re-use.

The aim is to ensure that batteries are safe, durable and competitive. The rules apply equally to all types of batteries: those used in vehicles, electronic devices, industry, lighting and ignition systems.

Batterie BMW 46xx

BMW 46xx batteries

At the heart of the battery regulation are the minimum targets that manufacturers must meet for the collection of waste (i.e. end-of-life batteries): 63% by 2027 and 73% by 2030. The standards are 51% by 2028 and 61% by 2031 for vehicle batteries.

Waste collection targets

  • 63% by 2027
  • 73% by 2030

There are also targets for lithium recovery (50% by 2027 and 80% by 2031) and minimum levels of recycled content that batteries must meet: 16% for cobalt, 85% for lead, 6% for lithium and 6% for nickel. For nickel-cadmium batteries, the target is 80% by 2025.

Recovery rates

  • 16% for cobalt
  • 85% for lead
  • 6% for lithium
  • 6% for nickel

Among other things, the regulation requires users to be able to remove and replace batteries. There are also performance, durability and safety criteria, as well as restrictions on hazardous substances such as mercury, cadmium and lead.

Finally, there are requirements for labelling and information on components and recycled content. An "electronic battery passport" and a QR code are also being introduced.

Litio estrazione lago salato Nevada

Lithium samples

The recipe against addiction

The second initiative is a law on critical raw materials (Crma). Its aim is to guarantee a secure and sustainable supply of minerals useful for transition. It contains a list of raw materials (34) and strategic materials (17), and sets benchmarks for covering annual consumption of raw materials: 10% for extraction, 40% for refining on the Old Continent and 25% for recycling.

Coverage of annual raw materials consumption

  • 10% from extraction
  • 40% from refining
  • 25% from recycling

There is also talk of simplifying authorisations: a maximum of 27 months for extraction projects and 15 months for recycling and processing projects.

"In order to facilitate the development of strategic projects, the European institutions specify that the Member States will set up single points of contact at the appropriate administrative level and at the relevant stage in the value chain of critical raw materials".