The European Union (EU) is set to usher in a new era of smartphones with batteries that consumers can easily replace themselves.
Earlier this week, the European Parliament approved new rules(Opens in a new window) covering the design, production, and recycling of all rechargeable batteries sold within the EU.
The new rules stipulate that all electric vehicle, light means of transport (e.g. electric scooters), and rechargeable industrial batteries (above 2kWh) will need to have a compulsory carbon footprint declaration, label, and digital passport.
For “portable batteries” used in devices such as smartphones, tablets, and cameras, consumers must be able to “easily remove and replace them.” This will require a drastic design rethink by manufacturers, as most phone and tablet makers currently seal the battery away and require specialist tools and knowledge to access and replace them safely.
Apple has already been forced by the European Union to change from a Lightning port to a USB-C port on iPhones, with the iPhone 15 expected to be the first to make the switch. Now it seems Apple will need to figure out how to allow access to the battery inside future iPhones, as will every other smartphone manufacturer.
The new rules also stipulate strict targets for collecting waste and recovering materials from old batteries. The percentages for each increase at set intervals between now and 2031, at which point 61% waste collection must be achieved and 95% of materials must be recovered from old portable batteries. There will also be minimum levels of recycled content used in new batteries required, but only “eight years after the entry into force of the regulation.”
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Members of the European Parliament overwhelmingly endorsed the new rules, with 587 votes in favor, only nine against, and 20 abstentions. As for next steps, the European Council “will now have to formally endorse the text before its publication in the EU Official Journal shortly after and its entry into force.” According to Android Authority(Opens in a new window), the law goes into effect in early 2027, but the EU could delay it if manufacturers demonstrate they need more time in order to comply.
The European Parliament also has non-rechargeable portable batteries on its agenda and will assess by Dec. 31, 2030, if they should be phased out completely(Opens in a new window).
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