Green Tech

EU’s mandate for smartphones with replaceable batteries could pose safety risks

EU’s mandate for smartphones with replaceable batteries could pose safety risks

In the contemporary digital landscape, the longevity of a device’s battery is paramount to ensuring an optimal user experience. The ability to replace a smartphone’s battery with ease is a significant consideration for consumers who prioritise environmental sustainability, cost-efficiency, and user-friendliness. In response to these concerns, the European Union has enacted more stringent battery regulations, encompassing aspects of battery usage and disposal to address these consumer needs.

The regulation encompasses the entire life cycle of batteries, including production, reuse, and recycling, and applies to all battery types. It sets collection targets, such as 63% for waste portable batteries by 2027 and 73% by 2030, and 51% for light vehicle batteries by 2028, increasing to 61% by 2031. Additionally, it mandates that by 2027, portable batteries must be user-replaceable. The regulation also imposes strict due diligence rules to ensure the responsible sourcing of raw materials, aiming to reduce the environmental and social impact of batteries.

When the need arises to change a mobile device’s battery, consumers are presented with multiple choices. They have the option to buy batteries approved by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) from an authorised OEM service provider, or opt for OEM-approved batteries. Alternatively, they may decide to buy aftermarket batteries, which are not OEM-approved, and either have them fitted by an independent repair shop or undertake the replacement themselves following online guides. It should be noted, however, that choosing aftermarket batteries may pose certain safety hazards.

UL Solutions’ whitepaper reveals that all 33 battery brands tested failed to meet European standards, with 88% showing critical flaws potentially leading to fires and explosions. The global mobile battery market, dominated by lithium-ion batteries, was valued at $23.05 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach $29.9 billion by 2027. In the EU, batteries from 10 brands failed IEC/EN 621332 standard tests for thermal and short circuit safety, highlighting significant consumer safety concerns.

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