The European Parliament has voted in favor of a directive aimed at establishing a circular economy in the electronics industry. This measure, supported by a large majority of votes, will make batteries in electronic devices easily replaceable by consumers, and requires that by 2031, at least 80% of lithium and 95% of other metals used in batteries used are recycled.
The European Parliament has taken a big step towards establishing a circular economy in the electronics industry. By a vote with a large majority (587 for, 9 against and 20 abstentions), the institution validated a bold directive aimed at making the batteries of electronic devices easily replaceable by consumers.
This legislative initiative is a direct response to a long-standing problem, that of planned obsolescence. Currently, very few smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even other devices such as Bluetooth headsets, wireless speakers, or music players allow easy battery replacement.
Device cases are often difficult to open, and batteries are usually firmly attached with glue.
“Consumers should be able to easily remove and replace them themselves”
The formula is direct and without appeal. The consumer must be able to intervene himself on the device he has acquired. By tackling the issue of battery replaceability, the European Parliament is challenging the design and construction of electronic devices as we know them.
This could lead to a major transformation of the electronics industry. Manufacturers will be forced to redesign their devices to make them more durable, including making it easier to replace batteries.
A commitment to recycling
But the directive does not stop there. In a broader perspective of transition to a circular economy, the regulation also stipulates that from 2031, at least 80% of the lithium used and 95% of the cobalt, copper, lead and nickel used in used batteries must be recovered by recycling.
Recycling the metals contained in batteries is a major challenge. The quantities of lithium, cobalt, copper, lead and nickel present in electronic devices are significant and constitute a potential source of environmental pollution. By aiming to recover and reuse these materials, the European directive encourages an economic model that is more respectful of the environment.
This initiative is likely to give a boost to recycling technologies. Companies specializing in metal recycling could experience a boom, while manufacturers of electronic devices will be encouraged to design more environmentally friendly products, integrating the full life cycle of the materials used.
This directive is undoubtedly a strong signal sent by the European Parliament.
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