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New research shows that non-replaceable batteries are bad for the environment as well as consumers.
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New research shows that non-replaceable batteries are bad for the environment as well as consumers.

  • There is a growing market for rechargeable electronics. Many devices use non-replaceable, non-repairable Lithium Ion batteries.

  • Poor battery design is a major cause of early failure in smartphones, laptops, headphones, and ebikes. Nearly 100% of smartphone and tablet battery are glued in.

  • These issues can be addressed by the EU battery regulation in order to provide resource and consumer savings

Brussels, 6 December 2021 – At a time where Europe claims to be a leader on climate and sustainability, most rechargeable batteries in consumer electronics and e-bikes or scooters are either non-replaceable or non-repairable, resulting in shorter product lifetimes, increased electronic waste, loss of rare materials, and unnecessary expenditure for consumers. These are the findings of the European Environmental Bureau, Right to Repair campaign, and researchers at University of Lund. [1].

Rechargeable lithium ion battery can be found in almost all modern devices, from smartphones, laptops, tablets to electric bikes or scooters. And estimates show that the demand for these batteries will continue to rise in the coming decade.

Battery failure is a common problem for many consumer electronics. It is often the first component that fails in e-bikes or scooters. Battery replacement is a key component of 42% and 27% of repairs to laptops and smartphones, respectively.

Many batteries cannot be repaired, replaced, or recycled due to their inaccessibility, design, adhesives, and software locks.

Chlo MikolajczakCampaigner for the Right to Repair, he said:This is alarming considering the average battery life of these products is about 3 years. Most repairers we spoke to stated that the risk of damaging a device when removing the battery has increased. This indicates that many devices are being discarded prematurely due to battery failure.

In the meantime, ensuring that all new tablets and phones sold in the EU in 2030 have easily replaceable and removable batteries could reduce the annual emissions by 30%, reduce the loss or critical raw materials like cobalt, and save European consumers 19.8billion.

On top of the report, a coalition of electronic and battery repairers, the recycling industry and environmental NGOs representing at least 500 organisationspublished a joint statementtoday calling on the European Commission to take action for more removable, replaceable and repairable batteries in the forthcoming battery regulation [2].

Jean-Pierre SchweitzerPolicy Officer for product policy at EEB, John Reilly, said:There are many companies that can replace, repair, and recycle batteries from electronic devices like smartphones and ebikes. However, poor product design and software make this difficult or impossible. Manufacturers are wasting valuable resources and forcing consumers replace their devices before they need. All of these issues can be addressed by the European Council or Parliament currently negotiating European Batteries Regulation.

The European Commission suggested a Battery regulation [3]It addresses the entire lifecycle, from supply chain to disposal. It is currently in the hands the European Parliament and Council. While the proposal addresses the removal of batteries, it overlooks key issues like light electric vehicles, spare parts availability and software that prevents battery repair.



Notes to editor

The Right to Repair European campaignThis coalition includes more than 80 organizations from 18 European countries that fight for durable and more repairable products.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens organisations, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our experts focus on climate change and biodiversity, circular economy. We also focus on more general issues such as sustainable development and good governance, participatory democracy, and the rule of laws in Europe and beyond. There are more than 160 members from over 35 countries.

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