EP Monthly

EP Insight, August 2023 | Battery Passports

Batteries will play an essential role in the transition to a sustainable economy, and projections forecast the lithium-ion battery value chain could grow 30 percent or more annually from 2022 to 2030.1 The Council of the European Union (EU) recently adopted new requirements on batteries that address end-of-life circularity and the sustainability of supply chains. The new standards aim to address the pollution, high carbon footprint, lack of common standards, and natural resource waste in the life of a battery, as well as implementing labeling and information requirements by way of “battery passports” by 2026.

What is a Battery Passport?

According to The Global Battery Alliance (GBA) – which is a partnership of 140+ corporations, organizations, academics, and governments dedicated to ensuring that battery production not only supports reusable energy, but also safeguards human rights and promotes health and environmental sustainability2“The battery passport establishes a digital twin of the physical battery that conveys information about all applicable sustainability and lifecycle requirements based on a comprehensive definition of a sustainable battery. […] It’s ultimate goal is to provide end-users with a quality seal based on the battery’s sustainability performance, according to reporting rules agreed upon by stakeholders from industry, academia, non-governmental organizations and government.” 3

To put it simply, battery passports will offer increased transparency about a battery’s components, which in turn will enable easier recycling and a more circular, sustainable battery supply chain. As we aim to transition to a sustainable economy, circularity is vital and contributes to climate mitigation. Per McKinsey, “the carbon footprint of recycled battery materials is typically four times smaller than that of raw materials from primary sources.” 4

Collaboration Across Industries

In addition to the Council of the EU and the GBA, the battery passport concept also requires a diverse set of companies across sectors to contribute and collaborate. For example:

Avery Dennison, a U.S. based materials science company with a growing digital ID business, recently joined the GBA to help develop the battery passport. In an April 2023 press release, the company noted how the battery sector is one of the first to be impacted by the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan, and said that they “will assist its partners to further develop the battery passport and utilize its experience of digitally managing billions of products on behalf of companies in similar industries where traceability and sustainability is vital.” 5

Additionally, Umicore, a Belgian producer of battery cathode materials, is a member of a three-year consortium ‘Battery Pass’ project whose goal is to create the framework for battery passports by 2026. Umicore noted how the Battery Pass project not only supports Umicore’s longstanding circular business model, and commitment to clean mobility, but also could help to accelerate the uptake of carbon-free mobility in Europe and across the world.6

The battery passport concept is a promising, emerging innovation that highlights the need for all types of organizations across the value chain to collaborate alongside regulators if we are to achieve a truly sustainable economy.

If you are interested in reading more about corporate work to lower negative environmental impacts, please see other EP Insights from Terra Alpha here.

2 https://www.globalbattery.org/
3 https://www.globalbattery.org/battery-passport/
4 https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/our-insights/the-race-to-decarbonize-electric-vehicle-batteries
6 https://www.umicore.com/en/newsroom/battery-pass/
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Terra Alpha