Besides EV batteries, the new rules also cover portable batteries, automotive batteries, and industrial batteries
Under the new rules, the producers, including battery importers, will be responsible for collection and recycling or refurbishment of waste batteries
The new Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022 will replace the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001
The Indian government has notified the Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022 to ensure eco-friendly management of waste batteries in the country.
The development comes in the wake of an increasing push for the adoption and production of electric vehicles (EVs). The EV industry is set to become one of the largest producers of waste batteries in the coming years.
Besides EV batteries, the new rules also cover portable batteries, automotive batteries, and industrial batteries, a statement from the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change said.
Under the new rules, based on the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), the producers, including battery importers, will be responsible for the collection and recycling or refurbishment of waste batteries. They would also be responsible for ensuring the use of recovered materials from battery wastes in new batteries.
The liability on battery producers to collect waste batteries under the EPR norms was introduced in the government’s 2019 policy for Li-ion battery recycling.
The EPR mandates that all waste batteries be collected and sent for recycling or refurbishment while prohibiting their disposal in landfills and incineration. To meet the EPR obligations, producers may engage themselves or authorise any other entity for the collection, recycling or refurbishment of waste batteries.
The new Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022 will replace the Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001. Unlike the earlier rules which stated responsibilities such as ensuring no damage to the environment during the transportation of waste batteries, sending batteries to registered recyclers, among others, the new rules seem to be more concrete and with better goals.
The Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022, will enable the setting up of a mechanism and a centralised online portal for the exchange of EPR certificates between producers and recyclers to fulfil the obligations of producers, the statement said.
“On the principle of Polluter Pays Principle, environmental compensation will be imposed for non-fulfilment of Extended Producer Responsibility targets, responsibilities and obligations set out in the rules,” it added.
Besides, the rules also focus on setting up of new industries and entrepreneurship in the realm of waste battery collection and recycling or refurbishment.
The government will mandate a minimum level of recovery of materials from waste batteries. “Mandating the minimum percentage of recovery of materials from waste batteries under the rules will bring new technologies and investment in recycling and refurbishment industry and create new business opportunities,” the statement noted.
The recovered material from waste batteries can be used for making new batteries, which will reduce the dependency on new raw materials and save natural resources.
With India and its EV adoption as the context, the country still doesn’t have major lithium-ion (Li-ion) cell producers. The lack of raw materials is one of the key reasons behind this. As a result, India is still dependent on imports of EV cells from countries such as China, Korea, and the US.
While cell manufacturing is beginning to take shape in India, a proper recycling industry would further help in achieving the country’s goal of self-sustainability for cell production. In fact, it is pertinent to note that a majority of the components in Li-ion batteries, over 90%, can be extracted and reused.
However, India has been lagging behind in ensuring proper battery recycling as well.
Pointing to this, Jasmine Shah, Vice Chairperson of the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi, recently said, “I think one area we need to do a lot more is about EV battery recycling.”
Speaking about the new rules, Kunal Gupta, cofounder and CEO of EMotorad, an electric cycle manufacturer, said that the government has released them at an apt time.
“Though people shift to EVs to benefit the environment, it is imperative to know how improper management of old batteries could have an inverse impact on the environment,” Gupta said, adding that considering the rate at which EV industry is projected to grow, batteries need proper disposal.
In fact, India is one of the leading e-waste-generating countries in the world. While various electronic products and their components generated the e-waste so far, the rise in the number of EVs will further add to the problem.
As per a JMK Research report, the annual Li-ion battery recycling market in India is expected to be worth around 22- 23 Gigawatt Hour (GWh) by 2030, which is a $1 Bn opportunity.