EU Battery Regulation and Carbon Footprint Requirements
As of 17 August 2023, the European Parliament’s new Regulation concerning batteries and waste batteries, commonly referred to as the European Union (EU) Battery Regulation, entered into force. While the Regulation will not apply until February 2024, it is important to understand how the EU Battery Regulation will affect you well in advance of needing to comply.
To help navigate the new regulation, this article provides the key takeaways of the EU Battery Regulation, and deep dives into some of the important aspects around battery Carbon Footprint (CF), battery life cycle assessment (LCA) data and the EU’s roll-out timeline focused on CF and the Battery Passport.
What is the EU Battery Regulation?
Batteries are integral for the global shift to clean, circular energy systems.
As such, battery technological advances as well as the demand for batteries, in the EU and worldwide, will continue to increase exponentially - particularly for electric private vehicles (EV) and light means of transport (LMT) such as e-bikes. Battery production, manufacturing, use and disposal, however, is not inherently environmentally sustainable. Batteries contain critical raw materials including lithium, nickel, cobalt and graphite, among others, that can be environmentally impactful and carbon-intensive to not only extract but dispose of. In line with the European Green Deal, the EU Batteries Regulation is the first piece of European legislation taking a full life-cycle approach in which sourcing, manufacturing, use and recycling are addressed in a single law.
To ensure legal certainty and avoid market distortions for battery operators, the EU Battery Regulation represents a harmonised regulatory framework for dealing with the entire life cycle of batteries that are placed on the market in the EU in force from February 2024. The EU Battery Regulation sets out rules for battery producers, importers and distributors, whose battery is going to be manufactured, sold or used in the European Union on the carbon footprint, sustainability, performance, safety, collection, recycling and second life of batteries, as well as on information about batteries for end-users and other stakeholders.
Currently, legislation relating to the required methodology for implementing and delegated acts is being prepared by the EU to complete the new Regulation. The secondary legislation relating to battery EV’s CF assessment, as well as for attributes included in Battery Passports and reporting requirements, will be rolled out and effective at different stages over the next four years. In short, the new Battery Regulation provides ambitious targets to increase the sustainability of batteries placed in the European market, reducing the dependency towards primary production from mining as well as increasing material circularity in Europe. Central to the EU Battery Regulation is the requirement for Carbon Footprint reporting and end-of-life waste battery treatment.
The EU Battery Regulation impacts all operators along the supply chain.
If you are a battery producer, importer or distributor whose battery is going to be manufactured, sold or used in the European Union, the EU Battery Regulation applies to you. Stakeholders all along the battery value chain in Europe (including their global suppliers) must be working in close collaboration to minimise the environmental impact of the battery to be placed in the European market, to establish sound management of waste batteries at the end-of-life, and increase material circularity (especially materials used in anode and cathode active materials).
While certain key information regarding the battery composition and chemistries can be collected to enhance waste battery treatment, a Digital Product Passport (DPP) like the Battery Passport can be used as one of the tools to pass down information throughout the battery value chain (from the producers to end users and ultimately waste operators). This information can be crucial to establish appropriate end-of-life treatments, starting from the consumers discarding their waste batteries at the appropriate collection channels to the development of recycling technologies (from communition, sorting, and metallurgical recycling).
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been chosen as the methodology for the EU Battery Regulation.
All battery producers, importers, and distributors along the EU supply chain are obligated to report on their product’s carbon footprint using a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach. LCA is an internationally recognised methodology for quantifying, assessing and modelling environmental impacts including carbon footprints. Due to LCA ensuring that all batteries are assessed against the same system boundary and functional or reference unit, comparisons between products with similar functionality, like batteries used in electric vehicles from a range of manufacturers, can be directly drawn. The ability of LCA to delve deeply into analysis across the whole life span of a product also aids in pinpointing environmental hotspots, which is essential for supporting environmental impact reduction and decarbonisation strategies.
To ensure transparency, the EU Battery Regulation requires a version of the LCA study to be made public. And, to avoid greenwashing, verification of the LCA results will be enforced.
The EU Battery Regulation covers all battery types.
The EU Battery Regulation is agnostic - in other words, the regulation applies to all categories of batteries sold in the EU regardless of their shape, volume, weight, design, material composition, type, chemistry, use or purpose. As such, the regulatory framework covers portable batteries, starter, lighting and ignition (SLI) batteries, light means of transport (LMT) batteries including for e-bikes and e-scooters, electric- vehicle (EV) batteries, and industrial batteries. Carbon footprint declarations and Battery Passport requirements, however, will only apply to rechargeable EV batteries, LMT batteries and industrial batteries over 2 kWh.
The recycling of waste batteries is mandatory.
Battery circularity, to reduce waste outputs in the industry, is a key addition to the EU Battery Regulation. The Regulation covers the management of waste batteries in Europe, including the introduction of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework. The EPR states that battery producers that make batteries available on the market for the first time are responsible for waste battery management. Additionally, the EPR has declared minimum collection rate targets for portable and LMT batteries. Producers of EVs, SLI, and industrial batteries also need to ensure free-of-charge separate collection of waste batteries, however no collection targets are set. With end-of-life and battery recycling included in the EU Battery Regulation, economic operators need to ensure that the end-of-life treatments of waste batteries are performed with as little negative impact on the environment as possible.
Next to environmental aspects, a thorough investigation of the true costs and benefits of waste battery recycling chains can be performed to maximise the economic performance of EPR framework (for example, by conducting Life Cycle Costing analysis). In the future, the full understanding of the interplay between different battery designs and chemistries with potential recycling routes would greatly influence EPR fees paid by battery producers (ie, eco-modulation or modulated EPR fees).
What are the Carbon Footprint (CF) requirements?
The central feature of the new EU Battery Regulation is the requirement to report Carbon Footprint (CF), as stated in Article 7. The calculation of the battery CF must follow the European Commission (EC) product environmental footprint (PEF) method and relevant category rules (PEFCRs) (i.e PEFCR for high specific energy rechargeable batteries for mobile applications). Additionally, the battery carbon footprint must reflect international agreements and LCA technical advice such as ISO 14040:2006, or ISO 14067 specific to carbon footprint.
There are specific Carbon Footprint requirements for data collection, impact calculation, reporting and verification.
The table below summarises the key considerations for companies undertaking battery CF under the EU Battery Regulation.
Currently, the EU only mandates the declaration of your battery’s Carbon Footprint. But that might change.
While the new EU Battery Regulation only requires Carbon Footprint reporting, the EU Commission is drafting additional legislation for a more holistic approach to environmental impact minimisation across multiple industries. For example, the Critical Raw Materials Act, currently in proposal stage, will likely require multiple environmental impact categories such as air pollution, acidification, resource depletion, water use and other environmental impact categories be assessed and declared via a life cycle assessment approach. Due to the various environmental impacts that can occur at different stages of the battery value chain, we recommend anticipating this, and taking a 360º view when it comes to the environmental impacts of your product.
What types of data are needed?
The European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) has drafted guidelines for the calculation of the carbon footprint of batteries in EVs. In this document, JRC gives more details on the type of data allowed to be used in a battery LCA, including details on what data can be secondary and what data needs to come from primary sources, or in other words, be company-specific. For example, all the data relating to battery manufacturing processes should be company-specific, while data on the production of the solvent used in the electrodes can be sourced from secondary data.
Low-quality data will produce low-quality results.
At Minviro, we recommend using as much company or supply chain-specific data as possible, especially in the upper parts of the supply chain (ie, anode and cathode precursors such as graphite or lithium) as the environmental hotspots tend to be located here rather than in the downstream (ie, cell/ module/ pack manufacturing). If unavailable, being aware of the limitations and uncertainty of your secondary data is of utmost importance.
However, utilising secondary data is inevitable when conducting battery LCAs. As such, the need for high-quality, accurate LCA datasets is vital. It is important to be aware that low-quality data will produce low-quality results. In short, the study of supply-chain specific environmental impacts is key to accurate and true-to-reality battery LCAs, as commercial secondary datasets tend to underestimate or overestimate the environmental impact of upstream processes.
Co-ordinating data collection along the battery supply chain is integral.
Navigating data sharing among suppliers can be a complex endeavour, but at Minviro, we can provide support. With over five years of active involvement in raw material and battery LCA projects, we have successfully established a robust network of companies that complement our expertise. We have strategic partnerships with other entities specialising in diverse areas such as digital wallets, battery technology and due diligence auditing. These collaborations enhance our capability to offer not only comprehensive battery CF calculations, but also provide Battery Passport solutions.
What is the EU Battery Regulations rollout timeline?
The EU Battery Regulation considers different application times for each category of batteries (i.e EV, LMT, industrial batteries), with electric vehicle batteries being the first type to be impacted from February 2025. Furthermore, Carbon Footprint performance classes will need to be declared, starting from August 2026 for EV batteries, and carbon footprint thresholds will start to apply for each category, starting from February 2028 for EV batteries.
Battery passport requirements will not start to apply until February 2027. So, Carbon Footprint declaration and performance classes, both part of the metrics included in the battery passport attributes will need to be calculated before that time.
At Minviro, we can help.
Our commitment to understanding the technical, environmental, and economic nuances of the EU Battery Regulation drives us to constantly strengthen our partnerships within the battery value chain, both locally and globally. Our collaborative efforts are designed to minimise environmental impacts, enhance economic outcomes, ensure responsible sourcing of raw materials, and accurately quantify the costs and benefits of waste treatment for EPR fees. This holistic approach propels your battery products to market leadership. To discuss how we can support your specific needs, contact us. Together, let's set new industry standards.
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