EU ministers’ weak battery recycling targets are own goal for economy
1 min read

EU ministers’ weak battery recycling targets are own goal for economy

Governments want to delay requirements to recycle lithium despite record prices for raw materials.

Environment ministers have said they want to delay the introduction of already weak battery recycling targets. Governments want a requirement for batterymakers to recover just 35% of all lithium in used batteries to apply in 2029 – three years later than the EU Commission proposed. Green group Transport & Environment (T&E) warned the weakened target would be a blow for environmental protection but also for EU businesses because of the cost of using more raw materials.

Alex Keynes, clean vehicles manager at T&E, said: “The soaring lithium prices underscore the economic own goal of governments delaying already weak recycling targets. Europe’s battery industry cannot wait until 2029 to start building up a domestic supply of critical metals. Strong recycling targets will help improve Europe’s strategic autonomy by establishing a secure domestic supply of raw materials, and will cut the costs of batteries needed to power the green transition.”

Governments want manufacturers to recover just 35% of lithium from spent batteries from 2029. T&E has backed MEPs’ call for a more ambitious target of 70% – as is possible with the latest technology – from 2026. Lithium prices had increased by 750% in the 12 months to January 2022.

Governments today also said mandatory checks for human rights and environmental abuses in the battery supply chain should be pushed back two years to 2026. But they agreed with the timeline proposed by the Commission to begin introducing limits on the carbon footprint of battery production in 2024, giving a further boost to the climate credentials of electric cars.

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