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EU forces smartphone makers to use user-replacable batteries

by on22 December 2022

Will give manufacturers three and a half years to stop messing us all about 

The EU has reached a provisional agreement that will require that portable devices have user-replaceable batteries.

The agreement covers batteries of almost sizes including starting, lighting and ignition batteries for vehicles (SLI batteries), light means of transport batteries, (LMT, think electric scooters and bikes), electric vehicle (EV) batteries and even industrial batteries.

Legislation gives manufacturers three and a half year to rework their portable devices in such a way that users can easily remove and replace their batteries. 

User-replaceable batteries used to be the norm on smartphones, and really should not be a difficult thing to implement. However, it will annoy the likes of companies like Apple who make money either repairing phones just because they need a new battery, or as a tool to force yearly upgrades.

The only area which might be a challenge for the new law is foldable phones may be a challenge, though, as they often feature two separate batteries, one in each “half” to balance space and weight. They are connected with ribbon cables. Coming up with a design that allows easy access to users will be tough. Still, three and a half years is a long time to figure it out.

Each battery will be required to carry labels and QR codes that contain information on capacity, performance, durability, chemical composition and a “separate collection” symbol. Also, batteries will have digital passports with information on the general battery model as well as the individual battery.

This agreement was strongly driven by environmental concerns. The plan sets minimum levels of recycled materials for batteries: 16 per cent for cobalt, eight per cent for lead, and six per cent for lithium and nickel.

The EU will require that old batteries are collected: at least 45 per cent of old batteries must be collected (free of charge) by 2023, 63 per cent by 2027 and 73 per cent by 2030 for portable batteries. 

In fact, all other batteries, including EV and industrial, must be collected at no cost to the consumer regardless of their brand, origin and condition. Also, manufacturers selling their products in the EU will be required to develop a due diligence policy to “address the social and environmental risks linked to sourcing, processing and trading raw materials and secondary raw materials”.


Last modified on 22 December 2022
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