The vaping industry has been under growing pressure in recent times over its effect on the environment and is increasingly affected by sustainability laws. The EU might be seen as a leader in this area, and while new regulations are likely to have a major impact on businesses operating in Europe, they may also be setting a trend for other jurisdictions.
The upcoming revision of the regulation of batteries in the EU, particularly Article 11 of the draft Battery Regulation, seeking to upgrade the Battery Directive, may well have a significant impact on the e-cigarette industry.
ECigIntelligence published a briefing in May, suggesting that this initiative could spell the end of disposable e-cigarettes in Europe. The topic is worth revisiting now in light of its importance for the industry, especially in the area of portable batteries.
The European Commission proposed a new regulatory framework for batteries in December 2020. The suggested update of the EU Batteries Directive would establish mandatory sustainability and safety requirements for all batteries placed on the EU market. The requirements would cover the whole life cycle of batteries, potentially including e-cigarette batteries and devices. The proposal is currently going through the EU lawmaking process.
A lifetime commitment
Article 11 of the draft specifies that “portable batteries incorporated in appliances shall be readily removable and replaceable by the end-user or by independent operators during the lifetime of the appliance if the batteries have a shorter lifetime than the appliance, or at the latest at the end of the lifetime of the appliance”.
However, there would be exemptions for products that must be constantly supplied with power for safety, performance, medical or data integrity reasons and when the functioning of the battery is only possible when it is integrated into the structure of the product. In other words, consumers should be able to replace batteries to prolong the life of devices.
For the moment, however, the precise implications for the industry are still unclear.
In the terms of the draft, a “portable battery” is any battery weighing less than 5 kg, which makes it highly likely that e-cigarette batteries will need to follow the new rules. However, secondary regulation in the next three-to-eight years, including guidance on the removability and replaceability of portable batteries, will clarify the applicability to the industry.
While it remains uncertain for now whether the new directive will have a direct impact on the industry, it is likely that it will. The revision of battery rules will bring with it, too, other obligations such as a potential ban on non-rechargeable batteries and specific labelling requirements.
We should expect more details provided for portable batteries and their impact on different industries over the next few years.
- Other EU initiatives that might influence the regulation of the vaping industry are analysed in our environmental/sustainability tracker.
– Dmytro Korchahin ECigIntelligence staff