The EU has released legislative proposals to create a legal framework on the sustainability, traceability and circularity of battery production throughout a product’s life cycle. The draft is expected to come into effect on January 1, 2022.

SAFEGUARDS | Electrical and ElectronicsNO. 041/21

 SG 04121 Power bank

The European Union’s Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC) was published on September 26, 2006 and has been in force since September 26, 2008. It stipulates that all batteries or accumulators shall not contain more than 0.0005% (5 ppm) of mercury by weight and portable batteries or accumulators, including those incorporated into appliances, shall not contain more than 0.002% of cadmium by weight.

Batteries with more than 40 ppm lead, 20 ppm cadmium or 5 ppm mercury must also be marked with the chemical symbol for the metal concerned below the crossed-out wheeled bin symbol. The chemical symbol shall cover an area of at least one-quarter the size of the wheeled bin symbol.

The European Commission released a legislative proposal on December 10, 2020 aiming to create a legal framework on the sustainability, traceability and circularity of battery production throughout a product’s life cycle. It is an integral part of the Green Deal, the EU’s new growth strategy. The Regulation shall apply to all types of batteries and lists the four categories of batteries:

  1. Portable batteries
  2. Automotive batteries
  3. Electric vehicle batteries
  4. Industrial batteries

The new draft lays down the updates on restrictions and exemptions as following:

Restricted Substance Requirements
Mercury
  1. Batteries, whether or not incorporated into appliances, shall not contain more than 0.0005 % of mercury (expressed as mercury metal) by weight
  2. Batteries used in vehicles to which Directive 2000/53/EC applies shall not contain more than 0.1% of mercury (expressed as mercury metal) by weight in homogeneous material
Cadmium
  1. Portable batteries, whether or not incorporated into appliances, shall not contain more than 0.002% of cadmium (expressed as cadmium metal) by weight
  2. The restriction set out in point 1 shall not apply to portable batteries intended for use in:
    • Emergency and alarm systems, including emergency lighting
    • Medical equipment
  3. Batteries used in vehicles to which Directive 2000/53/EC applies shall not contain more than 0.01% of cadmium (expressed as cadmium metal) by weight in homogeneous material. (Not applicable to vehicles exempted on the basis of Annex II to Directive 2000/53/EC)

(These are in addition to the restrictions set out in Annex XVII of REACH)

The draft also puts forward new requirements for the sustainability and safety of batteries, including requirements for carbon footprint of electrical vehicle batteries and rechargeable industrial batteries, content of recovered materials (cobalt, lead, lithium and nickel), electrochemical performance and durability, detachability and replaceability, safety, etc. The proposal also introduces requirements on battery labeling and information, waste management and information traceability. Two conformity assessment options are laid down: internal production control (module A) or internal production control plus supervised verification (module A1) which involves a Notified Body.

 If the Regulation enters into force, it shall apply from January 1, 2022, with specific implementation dates for requirements, and the current battery directive will become invalid from July 1, 2023 except for certain provisions.

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