The provisions of Polish and EU law on the recycling of lithium-ion batteries – the perspective of Polish and EU law.

Publication date: January 05, 2024

Based on Regulation 2023/1542 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2023 on batteries and waste batteries, repealing Directive 2006/66/EC and amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1020.

The development and production of batteries are Europe’s strategic goals in the clean energy transition. This is mainly due to the fact that they are also a key part of the European automotive sector, and transport is responsible for nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in EU cities.

EU agencies believe that the more widespread use of electric vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful emissions from transport. It is assumed that in the years 2020-2030 the number of electric vehicles in the EU will increase to at least 30 million (currently there are 3.1 million).

The Council and the European Parliament adopted Regulation 2023/1542 of 12 July 2023 on batteries and waste batteries, amending Directive 2008/98/EC and Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 and repealing Directive 2006/66/EC. Previous regulations of the European Union (EU) covered only the stage of withdrawing batteries from use. The current regulations focus in particular on the management of used batteries.

Li-on battery recycling

Electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries (referred to as: Li-on batteries). According to estimates by the World Economic Forum, to facilitate the production of electric cars and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, global battery production needs to be increased 19 times. With the increase in the production of batteries, there is the issue of their recycling, which is necessary due to the fact that the raw materials used for their production are among the rare earth elements.

According to the regulation of the European Parliament, the recycling process means any activity related to the recycling of used batteries, excluding sorting or preparation for recycling, which can be carried out in an appropriate facility. The main objective of this regulation is the production of sustainable, efficient and safe batteries on the EU market, which will subsequently be recycled and reused. Thus, they will become a real source of valuable raw materials in a circular economy.

Poland on the map of lithium-ion batteries

Poland is a major player in the production of lithium-ion batteries. According to PSPA, we are currently ranked 2nd in the world after China, ahead of the USA and number 1 in Europe.

In 2022, lithium-ion batteries accounted for over 2.4% of all Polish exports, and the value of this sector has increased 38-fold since 2017, from about PLN 1 billion to PLN 38 billion.

Electronic Battery Passports

In order to create open battery information, the EU aims to introduce electronic passports for industrial and automotive batteries with a capacity of at least 2 kWh. Such a passport will contain all available information on each battery, which must be updated in the event of repair or reuse.

Li-on batteries used in electric vehicles are to have the content and quantity of the material and its origin specified. In addition, from 2027, the EU will require batteries to be marked with the manufacturer’s name, battery type, date of manufacture, hazardous substance present and other information that is necessary for the recycling process and facilitates battery reuse. Batteries intended for re-use (second life cycle) are considered as new products and must comply with the requirements for products placed on the market.

The Regulation also introduces a requirement to calculate the carbon footprint of batteries and to provide information in this regard; in addition, manufacturers must disclose information on the environmental and health impact of battery contents. Manufacturers are also required to provide information on how car batteries should be dismantled, transported and recycled.

EU sets manufacturers’ collection targets for used portable batteries (63% by the end of 2027 and 73% by the end of 2030) and introduces a special target for the collection of used batteries from light vehicles (51% by the end of 2028 and 61% until the end of 2031).

A specific collection and recovery target for lithium, cobalt, lead and nickel is also set; due to the scarcity of these resources. Recycled raw materials will have to have the following values in products: 6% lithium, 16% cobalt, 85% lead, 6% nickel from August 18, 2031; successively from August 18, 2036: 12%, 26%, 85%, 15%. Batteries will need to have documentation certifying the content of recycled materials. These requirements are introduced to prevent producers from opting for cheaper, newly extracted materials. However, this is risky as the new requirements may hinder the development of new innovations in the field of electric vehicles, due to the technical limitations of recycling processes or potential shortages of the products from conversion that will become necessary for the production of new batteries.

Manufacturers will be required to display their name, registered trade name (or trademark), postal address, including a single point of contact, and, if available, website and e-mail address on the battery. If it is not possible to provide the above information on the battery, it shall be provided on the packaging or in a document accompanying the battery. The contact details shall be in a language or languages easily understood by end-users and market surveillance authorities, as determined by the Member State where the battery is to be placed on the market or put into service, and shall be clear, comprehensible and legible.

Management of used batteries

EU Member States designate at least one competent authority responsible for fulfilling the obligations arising from Chapter VIII of the above. regulation that focuses on the management of used batteries. The duties of a given subject will include: register of producers, issuing authorizations for producers and producer responsibility organisations, supervision over the implementation of producer obligations, collecting information on batteries and waste batteries, providing information.

The regulation also includes the wording: due diligence in the supply chain – which is defined as the obligations of an economic operator that places rechargeable industrial batteries or electric vehicle batteries on the market, regarding its management system, risk management, external verifications carried out by notified bodies and disclosure information, aimed at identifying and eliminating the actual and possible risks related to the procurement, processing and trade of raw materials necessary for the production of batteries.

Battery producers shall ensure separate collection of all waste portable batteries, irrespective of their nature, chemical composition, condition, brand or origin, within the territory of the Member State where they make portable batteries available on the market for the first time.

Battery recycling and ESG (Environment, Social, Governance)

The concept of ESG operation assumes the operation of large enterprises, while taking care to protect and counteract the degradation of the natural environment; issues of social responsibility and human rights; appropriate structure and working conditions of the company.

New regulations regarding the recycling of batteries and accumulators will also have to be included in the ESG rules in the corporations to which the concept applies. Socially responsible enterprises should create an environmental policy that allows measurable verification of the adopted assumptions and is based on a specific plan. The new regulations covering the entire life cycle of batteries serve to promote the circular economy, which is one of the pillars of the ESG concept relating to the environment.

According to the European Council, the new regulation aims to reduce the environmental and social impact throughout the life cycle of batteries. The Regulation therefore introduces stringent due diligence requirements for operators. They will have to check the source of the raw materials used in the batteries they place on the market. This will have a significant impact on both the environment and society, creating a circular economy in which greenhouse gas emissions will be significantly reduced and the use of natural resources will be more efficient thanks to appropriate regulations on the reuse of resources. This obligation will not apply to small and medium-sized enterprises.

In addition, the new rules will benefit European businesses in terms of competitiveness. The re-use of raw materials will significantly reduce supplies from third countries. This will serve the development of European industry, while developing the green transformation.

Entry into force

The regulation enters into force on the twentieth day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Most of the provisions will apply from February 18, 2024, with Chapter VIII on the management of waste batteries applicable from August 18, 2025.

The Battery Regulation is binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all EU Member States. The new regulation will replace the current 2006 Battery Directive and complement existing legislation, in particular on waste management (the last of the provisions of this act, which will remain in force after August 18, 2025, will expire on June 30, 2027).


Regulation (EU) 2023/1542 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2023 on batteries and waste batteries, amending Directive 2008/98/EC and Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 and repealing Directive 2006/66/EC