Understanding the EU’s Digital Battery Passport

How it works, why it matters, what it portends for the industry—explained by a researcher from the Centre for European Policy Studies.

Ray Chalmers

June 19, 2024

5 Min Read
CEPS researcher Patricia Urban; Cover of CEPS' Battery Passport study
CEPS researcher Patricia Urban; Cover of CEPS' Battery Passport study.CEPS

Planning on doing battery business with European Union (EU) partners or customers? You’re going to need a passport.

Rather than the familiar booklet stamped at border crossings, the EU's new Digital Battery Passport (DPP) is a program designed to ensure battery product sustainability and information-sharing across the entire product lifespan and all value chain participation. Announced last summer as part of the new EU regulatory framework for eco-design and batteries, the digital product passport supports the collection and sharing of product-related data among supply chain actors. As the first tool of its kind globally, the battery DPP intends to address existing information gaps for products and materials throughout global supply chains. It thus functions as a key enabler for circular battery business models.

An additional note: By 2027 it will be law.

The circle game

Patricia Urban, a researcher with the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and co-author (with CEPS research head Vasileios Rizos) of the recent CEPS report, “Implementing the EU Digital Battery Passport,” recently outlined the project and its requirements for Battery Technology. “Circularity entered the EU policy debate in the 2010s, culminating in the first Circular Economy Action Plan in 2015, and in a renewed version in 2020, which aims to support the implementation of the European Green Deal.,” she said. The European Green Deal basically is a set of European Commission policy initiatives for making the European Union (EU) climate neutral in 2050.

In 2022, the European Commission’s proposal for a new “Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR)” describes the DPP as a tool that will “electronically register, process, and share product-related information among supply chain businesses and authorities.” This information should be easily accessible by scanning a data carrier, such as a watermark or a quick response (QR) code.

Product-related data sets the DPP will provide refer to material composition and origins, chemical substances, carbon footprint calculations, performance, repairability, disassembly, recycling, and disposal aspects. Pairing the expanding capacities of digital technologies with circularity principles, the DPP therefore aims to enable a more sustainable and circular use of products throughout their life cycles.

According to the report, batteries are the first product group for which the use of a DPP will be a legal requirement as of 2027 through the EU Batteries Regulation. Over the next few years, the EU will require the use of DPPs for additional product groups through the new legal framework on eco-design.

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These new legal requirements are the first of their kind at the global level and have “piqued the interest of European businesses with a number of DPP initiatives emerging across the EU,” the report says.

In Urban’s words, “This is the future of more sustainable batteries. It will not only make processes more efficient with more information accessible to consumers, but also unlock new opportunities in value creation for batteries, particularly in end-of-life processing and recycling.”

In addition to the sustainability and safety requirements, the regulation introduces labelling and information rules for economic operators.

From 2026 onwards, batteries will need to feature labels including information on, for instance, the manufacturer, the battery capacity, hazardous substances and critical raw materials contained within.

From 2027, QR codes need to be established for all batteries to provide access to the labelling information, and to additional information (e.g. declaration of conformity, due diligence report).

For EVBs, rechargeable industrial batteries with a capacity greater than 2 kWh and LMT batteries, a carbon footprint declaration will be required for each battery model per manufacturing plant, also accessible via the QR code. These should also provide access to the battery passport for LMT batteries, industrial batteries with a capacity greater than 2kWh, and EVBs.

Moreover, to evaluate whether batteries can be used further at end-of-life (EoL), and to facilitate the reuse, repurposing or remanufacturing of the battery, stationary battery energy storage systems, LMT batteries and EVBs will have to include a battery management system (BMS), containing information on the state of health and expected battery lifetime.

End of life and beyond

Obligations on EoL management and extended producer responsibility (EPR) are other important features. Battery producers placing a battery on the EU market will be subject to EPR including, for example, financing the separate collection and transport of waste batteries. Producers of several types of batteries will also need to provide take-back and collection systems and are responsible for making relevant waste prevention and management information available to end users and distributors.

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To support the establishment of circularity processes for batteries, the regulations establish collection targets for different types of batteries. Specifically, producers or EPR organizations acting on their behalf will need to ensure that at least 45% of waste portable batteries are collected by the end of 2023. This target is then set to increase to73 % by the end of 2030. For LMT batteries, the collection target will increase from 51% by the end of 2028 to 61% by the end of 2031.

Keeping it real

DPP implementation for Europe is being viewed realistically with attention to its challenges. “There’s still a way to go,” Urban says, noting that battery supply chains are complex and consisting of many individual suppliers providing individual battery components, such as miners, refiners, cell component producers, and cell and module producers, each with their own respective suppliers. Data sharing may not come easy.

Yet the mission is strong. “We live in a world of increasingly limited resources,” Urban said. “It is absolutely essential we transition to a circular economy and that all its aspects be carefully considered and designed. Co-operation will be key.”

To download a copy of “Integrating the EU Digital Battery Passport,” visit the Centre for European Policy Studies here.

Ed. note: The CEPS authors wish to recognize that “Implementing the EU Digital Battery Passport” was co-developed with the BATRAW project funded by the European Union. The BATRAW project is a notable example of an EU-funded project on battery sustainability and circularity that seeks to implement on a practical level the requirements of the Batteries Regulation. It aims to develop two pilot systems for sustainable recycling and EoL management of EVBs, as well as for domestic batteries (and battery scraps), to help generate secondary streams of strategically important critical raw materials. For more on BATRAW, see: https://batraw.eu.

About the Author(s)

Ray Chalmers

Ray Chalmers is a Detroit-area-based freelance writer with an extensive background supplying technical features and news items on manufacturing, engineering, software, economics, and the myriad paths of knowledge representing human progress.

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