In a few years it’s possible that nearly every new battery-powered product sold in the European Union may need to have a user-replaceable battery. Members of the of the EU Parliament have drafted an agreement that would take effective three and a half years after the final legislation is passed.

While the rule would apply to mobile devices including laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets it would also apply to everything from scooters to EVs and industrial batteries as well.

Tech companies who want to continue selling their products in the EU will need to rethink not only how their products are made, but also supply chain relationships. Some have already started taking steps in this direction. Fairphone, for example, has built a small but loyal following by offering devices that are thoughtfully designed to be repairable from day one. And Microsoft has taken some small steps, like opting for screws to hold the Surface Pro 9’s battery in place instead of adhesive.

Under the EU’s new regulations this could become the norm rather than a differentiator for niche devices… at least when it comes to batteries.

Batteries will also need to have more descriptive labels, including “QR codes with information related to their capacity, performance, durability, chemical composition.” There are also new collection (73% by 2030) and recycled content targets. Under the proposed legislation, new batteries must contain a minimum of “recovered cobalt (16%), lead (85%), lithium (6%) and nickel (6%).”

The Commission’s next target is non-rechargeable batteries. By the end of 2030 it will make a decision on whether to begin phasing them out entirely.

via TheNextWeb

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Lee Mathews

Computer tech, blogger, husband, father, and avid MSI U100 user.

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  1. Laptops used to have easily replaced batteries. One didn’t have to open it up to replace them. I used to have a cell phone where the battery was also easily replaced; attached to the back. Nio (IIRC the name) is producing an EV in China that one goes to a station that replaces the battery with a fully charged unit. I think it would be great to go back to those days (with the Nio being the exception since it is new).

  2. This is a reasonable idea, though as most laptops do usb-c pd these days an aging battery is potentially less of a problem then it once was? I would still prefer to be able to open and easily remove the old battery to replace it, but even for a glued monstrosity we have more options now, at least.

    1. Using USB for charging only helps in that it’s easier to get the cables that the laptop will end up permanently attached to. It’s still very annoying to have to find a wall socket everywhere because the battery lasts very little time, especially as the rest of the computer is probably still fine. I’m not sure that making the charger universal helps much with the downsides of nonreplaceable batteries.

  3. I want to preface this with the comment that I really, really, hate how phones are glued shut and I’d be happy to see this change because it was perfectly feasible to have removable batteries before and it really still is.
    I don’t like the QR code requirement, because I just don’t like things being so dependent on the internet when they don’t have to be. The issue is that the internet is transient and fragile, so are you ultimately liable if one of the dozens of people in external organizations doesn’t do their jobs correctly and the URL (and realistically, it has to be a URL) stops going anywhere?
    They should really allow the information to be printed on paper that comes with the product. It’s not like that doesn’t have it’s own issues but it’s substantially less complicated.

    1. It should be printed as you say – ideally in a return to manuals! But on bamboo, not wood, pulp. However, it should also be printed on the battery itself.

      1. I think there’s just a bit too much space taken up by all the requisite warning labels already to put it on the battery.
        Also, thinking it over, QR codes would basically be fine if the EU itself is willing to host the website containing a big central battery database that all the QR codes lead to.

    2. Maybe barcode will actually contain the information itself, QR2 are not only urls. If they will use comparct format of say, 2-3 letter keys and values like c:45000,v:12,md:01012022 etc or even somothing like highly packed grdp strings, it will be shorter than url.

    3. QR codes don’t have to be URLs. You can fit over 700 words on a QR code. If you used some of those for formatting tags you could still easily fit all the information for the battery in the QR code without having to connect to the internet (as long as they use a standardized formatting. They could easily come up with a simple open source reader app for that type of QR code if they wanted (and even without the app the words would still be there in plain text). We just normally use URLs with QR codes because it’s easy and lazy.
      Properly used it would let them fit all the info on the battery in the small amount of space left by all the warning labels and certifications.

    4. The problem with paper is that it inevitably gets thrown away and things end up missing from it. All sorts of specifications that should be obvious and public take some hunting to find. What LTE bands does this phone have? You’d think it would be in the manual, but there are multiple models and the manual covers them all, so they skipped it. You would think the phone’s settings would tell me (the hardware knows, after all), but it doesn’t. No, I have to look online for it. If that was mandatory information, I could go to wherever it’s required to have it. The same applies to batteries.
      If the QR code does contain a URL, as long as someone tests that the page was valid at one point, it will likely be archived even if someone shuts down the server. That’s not the best approach, as the QR code could contain the information in text form directly, but even if it is a URL it’s an improvement on the nothing we have now.

    5. “(and realistically, it has to be a URL)”

      Why? You can encode any arbitrary text in a QR code, if they can keep the infos below 300 characters there should be little to no issues.

      1. Because if the required information can be printed on the battery anyway, however encoded, why not just allow it in plain text, if in a condensed format like Alex suggested?
        I admit it’s not impossible. But just gut feeling tells me it’s really unlikely.

  4. Lenovo has been very good about selling ThinkPad T-series batteries for a decent price… and having stock for older products. One of the many reasons I buy that series.