Increased focus on the environmental impact of batteries

Both regulators and standardizers are increasingly focusing on the various environmental aspects of batteries.

The European Parliamentary has publish a briefing (which may be seen in full here) about the progress of EU Legislation that set sustainability requirements for batteries.

They foresees that global battery demand may increase 14-fold by 2030, making this market an increasingly strategic one. And, due to the important role played in the rollout of zero-emission mobility and the storage of intermittent renewable energy, batteries are considered a crucial element in the EU's transition to a climate neutral economy.

A proposal presented by the European Commission to modernize the EU's regulatory framework for batteries, introduce mandatory requirements amongst other for carbon footprint, minimum recycled content, performance and durability criteria and the sourcing of raw materials. Amongst the innovations envisaged by the Commission is introduction of a new category of electric vehicle batteries to minimize the carbon footprint of EV batteries and rechargeable industrial batteries. There is also a proposal to phase-out of primary (non-rechargeable) batteries from 2030. So far, however, the legislative process is in its early stages.

On the international scene, IEC’s technical standardization committees for batteries are TC 21 for secondary cells and batteries and TC35 for primary cells and batteries. The latter has just published three editions of the following widely used standards IEC 60086-1, IEC 60086-2, IEC 60086-3.

In an interview with IEC’s newsletter E-tech, the Chairman of TC34, Mr. Marc Boolish, states that rechargeable batteries shall not be expected to take over the market for primary batteries, as one may think.

Primary batteries have been getting smaller over the years and provide an energy efficient solution for many applications, not least coin-sized batteries for applications where 20 years ago, big D-Cell batteries were commonly used. The list of devices powered by primary batteries is endless, from toys to pacemakers.

Although rechargeable batteries may appear more environmentally friendly, he points out that primary batteries are simpler and are easier to recycle.

Written by Trond Sollie
For more than 30 years, Sollie has worked with conformity assessment activities in various industrial contexts, both in Norway and internationally. He has been paramount in building relationships across organisations and borders. He has also been active in the management of the international IECEE/CB scheme for many years. Until recently, he was Board Chairman of the Norwegian standards body NEK and President of the Norwegian IEC National Committee and IECEE Member Body. He is currently an NEK Board Member and a member of the IEC-CAB (Conformity Assessment Board). He also provides consulting to authorities/bodies of several countries on conformity assessment matters. Nemko has benefitted from Sollie’s expertise, network and enthusiasm for more than three decades. Prior to his role as a senior advisor for Nemko, he was a Senior Vice President, responsible for international cooperation. He has been instrumental in developing the successful Nemko Direct programs that offer clients worldwide market access for their products, within both the electrical and telecommunications/radio product areas.

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