Recycling

EU Commission report calls for new recycling category for Light-EV batteries

Waste collection and recycling rates for batteries used in light vehicles such as e-bikes could be improved by the institution of a fifth recycling category, a report finds.

Waste collection and recycling rates for batteries used in light vehicles such as e-bikes could be improved by the institution of a fifth recycling category, a report finds.

Initiated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, the study calls for an update of existing collection rules.

The 2006 Batteries Directive in effect currently identifies three battery categories. A fourth-relating to batteries in use in electric vehicles (EV’s)-is already part of a new Batteries Regulation proposed as of December 2020.

Additions suggested by the Research Center report relate to establishing definite collection targets for recycling within the suggested fifth category.

This is of import considering that current collection targets correlate to the relative life spans of less innovative products. With e-bike batteries typically in use for as long as 9 years, running counter against the assumed three specified by conventional collection targets, generated waste becomes available at a much later date. This serves to skewer recorded collection data while also impeding the safe and efficient collection of waste batteries by failing to account for waste volume generated several years along the line.

To rectify this problem, the report suggests the institution of a return channel for batteries sourced from such Light Means of Transport (LMT), including sport shops, bicycle as well as scooter dealers. It also recommends the alignment of non-collection requirements (ex. sustainability, information or remanufacturing) to the characteristics of LMT batteries.

The report mainly advocates for the adoption of an ‘Available for Collection’ (AfC) method for establishing collection rate targets. Considering that batteries used in light vehicles have a multiple year lifecycle, using sales figures (‘placed-on-market based target’) to calculate waste volume does not seem prescient.

Adopting the alternative approach would make it possible to have collection targets already by 2025 instead of 2030.