Smartphone manufacturers could be forced to bring back removable batteries

The imposition of USB-C connectivity as mandatory equipment on all smartphones sold in the EU could be followed by a new requirement to bring back removable batteries, which can be removed and replaced by the user.

Part of an effort to extend the life of mobile devices by making it easier to repair and reuse products that would otherwise go straight to recycling centres or, worse, landfill, European authorities want to bring back removable batteries. Under the proposal to be transposed into EU law, all smartphones sold in the EU must be designed in such a way that the battery can be easily replaced by the user. Either by removing the protective cover or, at most, by removing easily accessible screws.

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But the new draft law also includes other measures that will give electronics manufacturers a headache, imposing a maximum limit on CO2 emissions associated with the manufacture of batteries and the percentage of recycled raw materials. Each new battery will have to include a minimum of 16% of cobalt, 85% of lead and 6% of lithium and nickel from recycled sources. All this will add quite a lot to the manufacturing costs, which will inevitably be amortised in the shelf price charged to European consumers.

Also from the plan to cushion environmental impact, EU authorities aim to collect 45% of recyclable materials from electronic devices by 2023 and 73% by 2030. In addition, for electric vehicles, the proposal is to collect 100% good from recyclable materials.

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