At the International Congress for Battery Recycling (ICBR) in Valencia, Spain, on 6-8 September, battery recyclers focused on the implications of the new battery regulation introduced by the European Union (EU).
The consensus among attendees was that this regulation represents a significant step in shaping the future of a crucial product. Julian Prölß, the Director of Business Management for Battery Recycling at the chemical giant BASF, echoed the sentiments of many by emphasizing the importance of understanding how the multifaceted aspects of this regulation will be put into practice, stating, “It’s a complex framework – its enforcement is pivotal.”
Jan Tytgat, the Director of EU Government Affairs for Umicore, praised the regulation as a positive legislative effort, emphasizing the collective responsibility to work on the secondary regulations to uphold sustainability goals and promote a circular economy.
The growing interest in batteries was evidenced by the record attendance of nearly 600 delegates at the annual ICM event. Global demand for batteries is projected to increase 14-fold by 2030, with the EU expected to account for 17% of this demand.
For the first time, the European Commission has outlined comprehensive expectations for the life cycle of battery products, from their design to their end-of-life disposition. This regulation, which came into force on August 17, 2023, will roll out measures over the next 13 years.
The primary objective of the regulation is to ensure that new batteries entering the market have a minimal carbon footprint, contain fewer harmful substances, require fewer raw materials from non-EU sources, and are collected, reused, and recycled extensively within Europe.
Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, the Director of Circular Economy for the European Commission and the keynote speaker, described this moment as seminal. He highlighted that the EU’s approach combines sustainability with competitiveness, differentiating the EU from other jurisdictions. He expressed the Commission’s commitment to supporting European manufacturers and industries while engaging in global partnerships, avoiding isolationism. Ciobanu-Dordea acknowledged that some of the timeline goals may appear challenging but affirmed the EC’s readiness to turn these ambitions into reality, emphasizing that the Commission is focused on delivering concrete results rather than merely pursuing dreams.