New EU legislation passed this week could pave the way for the return of replaceable batteries in smartphones. The new rules for the design, production and waste management of all types of batteries sold in the EU mandates that batteries should be designed so that "consumers can themselves easily remove and replace" the power unit.
The legislation, that impacts any electricals from smartphones to EVs, was passed overwhelmingly with 587 votes in favor, nine against and 20 abstentions. The European Union believe these new rules will tackle the amount of e-waste the technology industry creates.
When it is passed, the legislation means that gadget manufacturers must make it possible for the customers to replace the battery of their gadgets themselves, without the help of experts, although the legislation isn't expected to become law until 2027.
Battery life is often one of the main reasons people upgrade to new devices, even when the phone itself is working well. With this legislation, the EU aims to stop people upgrading because of battery life, and instead give the public the ability to replace the battery and continue using the device, thus cutting down on e-waste at the same time.
As part of the legislation, manufacturers will have collection goals for their batteries. By the end of this year, member states will be expected to collect 45% of wasted batteries, which will rise to 63% by 2027, and 73% by 2030.
A real power struggle
This is not the first time the EU has legislated on the manufacturing process of electronics. In 2022, the EU amended the Radio Equipment Directive to make USB-C compulsory for charging gadgets by the autumn of 2024.
Not coincidentally, the upcoming iPhone 15 series is expected to ditch Lighting for USB-C ports. Earlier this year Apple confirmed that it is moving to USB-C for the iPhone but at the time it did not divulge which models.
In the above legislation, the EU also set out plans to tackle wireless charging, as well as fast charging, in order to cut down on the e-waste that is being generated by gadget accessories.
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Elliot MulleyGoodbarne is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide covering news, reviews, buying guides with wit and charm. He has had a keen interest in mobile, tablets, laptops, and everything in between since his first phone, the Samsung U600. Starting at Mobile News, Elliot has been writing about mobile and the business of technology since 2016, and has edited four trade magazines in that time, attending award shows for three of them. He has attended a range of industry events including 5G launches, device announcements, and trade events, where he developed a nose for picking up on trends, interviewing executives, and networking with the tech community. In his spare time, Elliot can usually be found watching, playing, or attending sporting events. With season tickets to West Ham United and Surrey County Cricket Club he often spends weekends in winter in a foul mood and evenings in the summer with a smile on his face. Outside of sport Elliot enjoys cooking, pubs next to rivers, and chilling out with a G&T, Whiskey, or Port after a solid week of excellence.