Removable Batteries to Make a Comeback: European Regulation Reshapes Consumer Electronics
European authorities have made a significant decision that will reshape the future of smartphones and electronic devices. By 2027, all battery-powered devices must be equipped with removable batteries. This regulation marks the return of smartphones with replaceable batteries, providing users with greater flexibility and sustainability.
The jurisdiction of the European Council extends to the European Union, and while global electronics manufacturers like Apple and Samsung may not create drastically different devices for different regions, it is unlikely that European iPhones will come with removable batteries while their American counterparts will not. This regulation applies not only to smartphones but also to tablets, laptops, electric scooters, electric cars, and other battery-powered devices.
By 2027, technology manufacturers will need to redesign their devices to allow consumers to replace the power source without any specialized knowledge or tools. This poses a challenge, considering that the majority of modern smartphones are designed as sealed units. The new regulation will necessitate a fundamental change in the design principles of consumer electronics.
The primary goal of this law is to create a closed-loop economy for batteries, ensuring maximum reuse of battery components. While achieving 100% recycling may not be feasible, the region aims to come as close as possible to this target. Key provisions of the new manufacturing regulations include:
- Waste Collection: By the end of 2027, OEM manufacturers must collect 63% of used batteries, which are currently disposed of in landfills. By 2030, this percentage will increase to 73%.
- Waste Utilization: By the end of 2027, 50% of lithium should be extracted from used batteries. By 2031, this percentage will rise to 80%.
- Minimum Requirements for Secondary Raw Materials: Industrial batteries, SLI batteries, and electric vehicle batteries should include a certain percentage of recycled materials: 16% cobalt, 85% lead, 6% lithium, and 6% nickel.
- Early Recycling Efficiency Goals: By the end of 2025, recycling efficiency for nickel-cadmium batteries should reach 80%. For all other batteries, efficiency goals are set at 50% by 2025.
While the full impact of this regulation may not be immediate in the consumer electronics market, we can expect changes in smartphone designs in the coming years as manufacturers begin to comply with the requirements of the new European norms. Achieving complete transformation will take time, as ensuring IP68-rated device protection with easily replaceable batteries may present challenges. However, this move toward removable batteries demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and consumer empowerment in the European market.
- I'm Vasyl Kolomiiets, a seasoned tech journalist regularly contributing to global publications. Having a profound background in information technologies, I seamlessly blended my technical expertise with my passion for writing, venturing into technology journalism. I've covered a wide range of topics including cutting-edge developments and their impacts on society, contributing to leading tech platforms.
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