Battery Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2022

Battery Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2022

Context: The Battery waste rules, 2022 were a step in the right direction which addresses concerns around lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles. However, few critical gaps have been found that needs attention.

What are the Battery Waste management rules, 2022?
• Coverage: The Rules bring within its ambit all manufacturers, producers, collection centres, importers, reconditioners, refurbishers, dismantlers, assemblers, dealers, recyclers, auctioneers, vehicle service centres, consumers and bulk consumers.
• Extended Producer Responsibility: The Rules said producers, which include battery manufacturers, importers and automakers that produce products with batteries, “shall have the obligation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for the Battery that they introduce in the market to ensure the attainment of the recycling or refurbishing obligations”.
• Disposal Prohibition: The rules prohibit the disposal of waste batteries in landfills and incinerators.
• Recycling, Refurbishing, or Re-purposing: The rules mandate recycling, refurbishing, or re-purposing of waste batteries.
• Online Portal for EPR Certificates: An online portal will be set up for the exchange of EPR certificates between producers and recyclers/refurbishers to fulfill the obligations of producers.
• Recovery Target: There is a target for recovery of the battery material — 70% by 2024-25, then 80% by 2026, and 90% after 2026-27 onwards.
• Environmental Compensation: Environmental compensation will be imposed for non-fulfillment of EPR targets and obligations.
• Promotion of New Technologies: The rules promote new technologies, investment in the recycling and refurbishment industry, and create new business opportunities by mandating the minimum percentage of recovery of materials from waste batteries.

What are the critical gaps observed in Battery Waste management rules, 2022?
• Labeling and Information Deficiency: Current battery labels lack comprehensive information about their chemical composition, which impedes effective recycling. The lack of data on metals in lithium-ion batteries hampers recyclers’ ability to recover valuable materials efficiently.
• Design Complexity: Battery packs often have intricate assembly methods involving welding, adhesive, and screws, making disassembly challenging. Standardizing joining techniques could facilitate automated disassembly.
• EPR Implementation and Budgeting: The rules lack a clear directive on the budget that manufacturers should allocate for collecting and recycling spent batteries. This ambiguity may result in low rates paid to recyclers, impacting the efficiency of waste collection and processing.
• Carbon Footprint: The new rules also miss out on using labels as an opportunity to reflect the battery’s carbon footprint. This would make their environmental impact more transparent, especially if it covers the entire life of the battery as well as the percentage of recycled battery materials such as cobalt, lithium, and nickel.

Way Forward
• Allocate resources for research and development initiatives focusing on innovative technologies for battery recycling.
• Define clear guidelines mandating a budget allocation for battery collection and recycling by manufacturers which will ensure fair compensation for recyclers and strengthens the waste collection infrastructure.
• Implement regulations mandating detailed information on battery labels, including chemical composition and recyclability.

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