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The new Batteries Regulation of the EU and the contribution of cobalt

The European transport revolution is a big step ahead. The European Parliament and the European Council have approved the new rules for the design, production, and waste management of all types of batteries sold in the EU including EV batteries.

This move brings the EU closer to increasing its circular economy ambition and reducing the environmental and social impact throughout all stages of the battery life cycle. All with supporting the overarching aim to reach a zero-emission target by 2050 and a 55% emission reduction target by 2030.

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EV batteries are a major driver for the EU’s climate objectives towards a low carbon transport sector and green transition. Cobalt plays an essential role in this as it is used in most modern lithium-ion batteries including for electric vehicles. It a key component for many car makers due to its safety and stability. In 2022, cobalt containing EV batteries represented more than 60% of the cathode demand.

The Parliament and Council ensured with the proposal (followed the endorsement of the informal interinstitutional agreement) that the Batteries Regulation can keep pace with the fast-changing batteries market to guarantee that the sustainable objectives will be delivered.

The Cobalt Institute advocated for a level playing field for all battery raw materials to acknowledge the fast-changing pace of the market. The additional abstract added during the interinstitutional negotiations, will give the Commission the power to include raw materials used in batteries to the recycled content targets in a later stage. The Cobalt Institute welcomes this development as it is results in a circular approach and green transition for the whole battery sector.

To reach a circular economy the European Parliament and Council also agreed to increase the recycled content targets of the metals important for batteries. The minimum levels of recycled content targets for cobalt from manufacturing and consumer waste for use in new batteries are now with 16% by 2031. Cobalt is a highly recyclable metal; secondary cobalt supply could provide up to 67% of the EU’s cobalt demand by 2050.

The content targets will help to set the scene for the future, but it is important that the EU creates the right environment required for industry to set up more recycling capacities. Support through the Critical Raw Materials Act/Net-Zero Industry Act and a holistic approach towards Chemicals Management Regulation are crucial.

Once gone through the EU procedures (The legislation will be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force 20 days after), the Batteries Regulation will provide the right regulatory flamework for the battery sector to ensure a harmonised approach towards a sustainable battery lifecycle.


Source: Cobalt Institute

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