Making sustainable raw materials a Green Deal necessity
“Today’s battery package makes clear that the EU’s energy transition will only be successful if supplied by metals which are sourced responsibly, produced sustainably, and then properly recycled. Europe’s metals sector wants to deliver on this goal with policymakers and battery producers through competitive value chains”, said Guy Thiran, Director General of Eurometaux (European metals association) on the publication day of the EU’s sustainable batteries legislation.
“In the next 10-15 years we know that meaningful volumes of new mobility and stationary batteries will start reaching their end-of-life. Following today’s new recycling targets, it’s imperative that Europe supports industry investments into new capacity for recovering battery metals. We’ll also need to bridge the supply gap for recyclers while batteries are still in operation. Maximising the collection and recycling of Europe’s portable batteries will be essential”.
Europe’s Green Deal goals will require a range of battery technologies in higher volumes, all based on combinations of metals including aluminium, cobalt, copper, lead, lithium, nickel, manganese, silicon, and zinc. Today’s sustainable batteries package sets objectives for these metals to be produced sustainably from both mined and recycled sources, including new measures on due-diligence, chemicals management, and carbon footprint (where battery-enabled renewable energy will itself be needed for decarbonisation). Measures will equally need to address other areas of the world that already have a dominant position for several of these materials.
A clear link is also made with the EU’s industrial alliances on batteries and raw materials. Here various European metals companies are targeting investments into new capacity for mining, refining and recycling battery metals. Their operations and projects are characterised on a global level by high levels of environmental and social standards, following EU requirements. The EU’s battery legislation must help to establish fair competition for these projects while still securing the global raw materials supply that will be required from other regions.
Guy Thiran continued: “Europe’s metals sector recognises there is major work ahead to deliver on the EU’s sustainability ambition. Today’s package is an important milestone in the EU reviewing all aspects of a battery’s footprint together for the first time. It’s crucial that new measures on due diligence, chemicals, and carbon footprint are implemented within a proportional framework that also enables European company investments amidst fierce global competition. The European Commission has the right goal to set an environmental and social level playing field for all players on the EU market”.
“We also emphasise the importance of Europe’s new batteries legislation taking a coherent approach to chemicals management. Almost all batteries contain metals with hazardous properties, but their safe production and use will happen through worker protection and proper waste management. European companies need certainty that their materials have a place in Europe’s Green Deal, when safety and sustainability are both demonstrated”.