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CMA & RCS Webinar - The Impact of EU Battery Regulations on UK Battery Materials

On Monday 12th of April, The Critical Minerals Association and Royal Society of Chemistry held a webinar on the impact of new EU Battery Regulation. The new law addresses technical developments and challenges to both battery manufacture and waste products to enhance and improve sustainability across the supply chain.

Our expert speakers on the topic were:

  • Dr Lucy Smith, Ventures Lead, Materials Processing Institute

  • Dr Jordan Lindsay, Sustainability Coordinator, Minviro

  • Dr Laura Lander, Lecturer in Energy Storage Systems, Kings College London

  • Chris O Brien, Sustainability and Carbon Lead, AMTE Power

  • Tom Fairlie, Sustainability Strategies Manager, Cobalt Institute

Watch the webinar here:

In the webinar, panelists discussed the impact of regulatory changes across the entire supply chain, manufacturing pathways, battery production within the UK and EU, and waste recovery and disposal.

The regulation creates a benchmark for the requirements of supply chain transparency, and it is fundamental that companies comply and data remains transparent for results to be comparable across the entire European Commission. This is not a large sidestep for companies specialising in supply chain transparency and life cycle assessment (LCA), but it is still important to note the requirements that those working within the supply chain will need to follow to comply. High quality data and data compliance is fundamental for these changes. The Global Battery Alliance is also working on improving traceability and accessing this data.

The impact of this regulation to UK cell manufacturers is significant. The chemistry of batteries lies with the cell manufacturer, and regulation requires all battery components to be traceable. The manufacturer’s responsibility will be to show the sustainability and environmental impact of the entire product. This involves understanding and disclosing key data on the production of components all the way down to the mining/extractive stage.

The whole value chain will be impacted by the regulation. Using cobalt as a case study, Tom Fairlie outlined that by 2028, 16% of the cobalt in a battery is required to be recycled, and by 2026 the recovery ability of cobalt is expected to be 90%. There is a pressing need for improvements in recycling efficiencies and collection rates. Researchers now have a greater responsibility to consider these concerns within the development stages of innovation by working more closely with industry. Miners, manufacturers, and stakeholders across the supply chain should harmonise their research to meet these legislative changes. The regulation also sets new directions for academic research. Research into the most efficient, energy dense materials needs to consider circular economy, sustainability and accountability across the value chain when developing new technologies.

Many frameworks exist to develop circular economy practices, however there can be a disconnect between these frameworks. There are also crossovers with other regulations such as chemicals management which need to be considered. Chemicals regulatory regimes can cause challenges with recovery, recycling and remediation of metals and other chemicals from products. There is a need to look at hazard rather than risk in some cases to create proportionate limits to make these regulations more manageable and improve recovery and recycling. The development of recycling technologies and sustainable materials by researchers is essential to meet the legislation’s requirements.

The new EU regulation is a big step change in the description of battery types. Previous regulation focussed on reducing the environmental impact of lead and acid batteries, water pollution and recovering predominantly portable batteries at the end of their life. There was a lack of information around industrial batteries (including automotive batteries). The new regulation creates categories for automotive and transport batteries. From a UK manufacturing perspective, there is a risk of UK-EU divergence on this. If UK manufacturers must follow two different frameworks to do business in both jurisdictions, there is a cost associated with duplicating compliance. UK’s alignment with the EU on this regulation would be favourable.

The framework is excellent in placing ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) at the forefront of the battery supply chain, but this does impact all aspects of the industry. Transparency, support and collaboration between entities within the field is essential to ensure compliance and growth from this new directive.

Thank you to everyone involved in the preparation and smooth running of the webinar, and to our excellent speakers for providing their expertise and insights. To read the full EU Battery Regulation, follow this link.

Article by Becca Kirk, Circular Economy Events & Communications, CMA

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