Anyone remember the Nokias of yore
Back in the day, we could quickly reset phones stuck in a boot loop or facing battery issues by just popping the battery out and putting it back in. However, the advent of glass sandwich smartphones and the necessity for water resistance claims means phones are glued shut from the factory. After successfully passing laws to mandate USB-C for charging smartphones, lawmakers in the EU now want smartphone batteries to be removable again in the interest of sustainability and reparability.
The EU’s new rules surrounding batteries could have a far-reaching impact on consumer electronic brands and electric vehicle makers (via TheNextWeb). They intend to optimize everything about batteries, from raw material extraction to the finished products for industrial and consumer-facing applications.
The push for user-replaceable or user-serviceable batteries may sound like a step backward, but it would translate into better reparability for electronic gadgets, at least in the EU. A removable battery would also help users extend the life of their phones without incurring expensive battery-related repairs — most LiPo and Li-ion batteries are irreparable at the service center level, anyway.
To promote sustainable production of batteries in the years to come, the EU states that at least 16% of the cobalt, 85% of the lead, 6% of the lithium, and 6% of the contained nickel should come from recycled sources. Lawmakers have stipulated used product collection targets for companies to ensure they don’t run out of materials to recycle. Recycling and product collection shouldn’t cost the end-users an additional dime, regardless of the battery waste they offer.
Understandably, such weeping changes cannot happen overnight, even in the jet-set tech space. The EU will give companies 3.5 years after it passes the legislation to redesign batteries that users can conveniently remove and replace by themselves. However, the changes may need companies to rethink battery sourcing, ties with recyclers, and long-term supply chain strategies so consumers aren’t affected.
Google may have won against the EU in a recent antitrust investigation, but it will be interesting to see the search titan and other smartphone OEMs resist the removable battery proposal. The European Parliament and the Council are yet to sign off on the law, though, perhaps giving Big Tech adequate time to gear up for a power-packed debate (pun intended).