The European Union (EU) is on the verge of introducing a new era of smartphones featuring easily replaceable batteries for consumers.
Recently, the European Parliament approved fresh regulations (Opens in a new window) governing the design, production, and recycling of all rechargeable batteries sold within the EU.
Under these new regulations, electric vehicles, light modes of transportation (e.g., electric scooters), and rechargeable industrial batteries (above 2kWh) must include a compulsory declaration of their carbon footprint, along with a label and digital passport.
As for “portable batteries” used in devices like smartphones, tablets, and cameras, it will be imperative for consumers to have the ability to “conveniently remove and replace them.”
This will necessitate a significant overhaul in design by manufacturers, since the majority of phone and tablet producers currently seal the batteries, making it challenging for users to access and replace them without specialized tools and expertise.
The European Union has already compelled Apple to transition from the Lightning port to a USB-C port on iPhones, and it is anticipated that the iPhone 15 will be the first model to undergo this change.
Now, it appears that Apple, along with other smartphone manufacturers, will need to find a solution to grant access to the battery in future iPhone models.
Moreover, the new regulations outline stringent targets for the collection of waste and the recovery of materials from old batteries. These targets will progressively increase at specified intervals until 2031.
By that time, a minimum of 61% waste collection and 95% material recovery from old portable batteries must be attained. Additionally, there will be requirements for minimum levels of recycled content in new batteries, but these will come into effect only “eight years after the regulation takes effect.”
The new rules received overwhelming support from the Members of the European Parliament, with 587 votes in favor, only nine against, and 20 abstentions.
The next step involves the European Council formally endorsing the text, followed by its publication in the EU Official Journal, and eventually, the rules will come into force.
According to Android Authority, the law is scheduled to take effect in early 2027. However, the EU retains the option to postpone its implementation if manufacturers demonstrate the need for additional time to comply with the regulations.
Furthermore, the European Parliament is also addressing non-rechargeable portable batteries and intends to evaluate whether they should be phased out entirely by December 31, 2030.