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A rechargeable lithium-ion battery for the Volkswagen ID.3 sits at a plant in Zwickau, Germany, on Feb. 25, 2020.RONNY HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images

Car and industrial batteries sold in Europe will soon face legally binding environmental standards, the European Commission said on Thursday, as it seeks to give local producers an edge in a rapidly growing global market.

Europe’s battery demand is set to soar this decade, spurred by the 30 million electric vehicles the EU says Europeans will be driving by 2030.

The Commission on Thursday proposed regulations to ensure that demand is met by greener batteries with lower emissions, produced using recycled materials. The proposals need approval from EU member states and the European Parliament.

“Batteries placed on our market, regardless of their origin, they will be sustainable,” Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said.

Under the proposals, rechargeable electric vehivle (EV) and industrial batteries sold in Europe must disclose their carbon footprint from 2024, and comply with a CO2 emissions limit from 2027.

An obligation to disclose the content of recycled raw materials in those batteries would apply from 2027, followed by requirements to use a minimum share of recycled cobalt, lithium, nickel and lead from 2030.

To encourage battery recycling, the Commission also proposes targets for EU countries to collect 65 per cent of portable batteries by 2025 and 70 per cent by 2030, up from the EU’s current target to collect 45 per cent of portable batteries.

Today, China hosts roughly 80 per cent of the world’s lithium-ion cell production, but Europe’s capacity is set to expand quickly. The EU says local producers could cover the bloc’s electric vehicle battery demand by 2025.

Brussels hopes its proposals could support that aim, by giving green-minded local producers an advantage over those in countries where a coal-heavy electricity grid means the CO2 footprint of battery manufacturing is likely higher.

Jesper Wigardt, vice president of communications at Swedish battery maker Northvolt, said the proposals would incentivise investments in renewable energy, to help Europe “get out of batteries produced in less good energy grids from a CO2 point of view.”

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