After lengthy negotiations, the ‘final’ text of the EU Batteries Regulation agreed between the European Commission, Parliament and Council has been published. Whilst it’s possible there could still be minor changes, you can expect this to be substantively the same as the final published legislation.
What is it?
The proposed Batteries Regulation will replace the existing Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC. It represents a significant reform of the current rules and aims to make batteries used in the EU more environmentally friendly and increase the life of consumer electronic devices. The legislative proposal has been working its way through the European legislative procedure and is the culmination of a lengthy debate among the EU institutions.
Why does it matter?
More stringent removability and replaceability requirements
- Products incorporating portable batteries must be designed in a way that ensures the batteries are readily removable and replaceable by the end-user at any time during the lifetime of the product and must be accompanied by instructions and safety information on the use, removal and replacement of the batteries. This information must be made permanently available online. There are also new requirements to make batteries available as spare parts for a minimum of 5 years.
- There are very limited exceptions to these requirements – which have been narrowed compared to earlier leaked drafts:
- a partial derogation to enable a product to be designed for the battery replacement to be undertaken by an independent professional (rather than end-users) for products designed to operate in an environment subject to splashing water, water streams or water immersion and intended to be washable and rinseable (where it is required to ensure safety), as well as for a limited category of medical devices and IVD medical devices.
- a full exception where the continuity of power supply and a permanent connection between the product and the battery is required to ensure safety, or for products that collect and supply data as their main function, for data integrity reasons.
Ban on certain substances and electrochemical performance requirements
- In addition to restrictions under the REACH Regulation and the end-of-life vehicles Directive, batteries would need to comply with certain restrictions under the Batteries Regulation itself including on mercury and cadmium and a new restriction on lead.
- The new rules also give the Commission powers to restrict further substances in the future.
- In addition, ‘portable batteries of general use’ (e.g. AA batteries) must meet the electrochemical performance and durability parameters set out in the Batteries Regulation.
New marking, labelling and information requirements
- All batteries will need to be marked with a label containing information on the manufacturer’s identification, the battery category and certain traceability information, the manufacturing location, capacity, chemistry, certain critical raw materials plus more.
- There are also new requirements to CE mark batteries and include certain information about the importer.
- All batteries will have to be marked with a QR code linked to a website providing access to information about the battery.
- Additional information is also required for rechargeable portable batteries and non-rechargeable portable batteries.
- As required under the current regime, batteries will have to be marked with the crossed wheelie bin symbol, and batteries containing cadmium and lead over certain levels need to be marked with the respective chemical symbol for the metal concerned.
New requirements for all batteries to undergo a conformity assessment
- All batteries will need to undergo a conformity assessment. There will be a presumption of conformity where harmonised standards are used.
- Batteries will also need to be accompanied by an EU declaration of conformity.
Supply chain due diligence
- All economic operators placing batteries on the EU market, except SMEs, will be required to develop and implement a so-called “due diligence policy” to address the social and environmental risks linked to sourcing, processing and trading raw materials and secondary raw materials.
Common charger extension
- The Commission will be required to assess how best to introduce harmonised standards for a common charger for rechargeable batteries incorporated into specific categories of electrical and electronic equipment, among other products, by 1 January 2025.
The text still needs to be formally approved by the European Parliament and Council. The legislation will then be signed, published in the Official Journal of the European Union and enter into force 20 days later. We expect this process to finish around Q1 – Q2 2023.
It will apply 6 months after publication, but there are numerous transition periods applying to different provisions (e.g. 42 months for the removability and replaceability and QR code requirements). The current batteries regime will not be repealed until 24 months after publication, so it will remain possible to place batteries on the market under that regime until then.
Where can I find out more?
The text of the provisional agreement can be found here.
Press releases from the Commission, Parliament and Council following the trilogue agreement reached.