EU proposes lithium-ion battery recycling targets

Consultancy IDTechEx says pending regulations include recycled-content targets for lithium, cobalt and nickel.

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December 15, 2020

Cambridge, United Kingdom-based consultancy IDTechEx says the European Commission’s proposed regulations on lithium-ion sustainability include a requirement for the use of recycled-content lithium, cobalt and nickel in lithium-ion batteries sold in the European Union.

Calling the proposed EC regulations “stricter,” the consultancy says they are “intended to improve the sustainability of batteries, including li-ion, by reducing carbon footprint, use of hazardous materials, and increasing the use of responsibly sourced material.”

Requiring cells and batteries to have a lower CO2 footprint and more sustainable and transparent material use may give emerging battery producers in Europe “an advantage, having designed-in sustainability strategies from the start, over [Asia-based] companies such as LG Chem, CATL, or Samsung,” writes IDTechEx.

Continues the consultancy, “As part of minimizing the impact from li-ion battery production, recycling will be key, and the EC is proposing stricter requirements on li-ion battery collection rates, with cell manufacturers potentially being required to include minimum percentages of recycled material, including lithium (4 percent), cobalt (12 percent), and nickel (20 percent).”

The proposed regulation also imposes a requirement for 100 percent collection of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Also, consumer devices such as smartphones may be required to design for removable batteries.

According to IDTechEX, “Batteries for consumer devices are rich in cobalt and could therefore be a valuable resource if they can be more easily collected.” The firm calls battery li-ion battery recycling “an industry forecast for substantial growth, and there is evidence that this is now beginning to happen.”

The U.K. company says its “full portfolio of energy storage market research, including on li-ion, solid-state batteries, flow batteries and hydrogen,” is listed on this web page.