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Insights from the World Circular Economy Forum on European Battery Industry

The World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) has once again emerged as a pivotal platform for global leaders, innovators, and stakeholders to converge and deliberate on pressing issues surrounding sustainability and resource management. Amidst many insightful discussions and sessions, one particularly significant dialogue unfolded during the panel on "Challenges and opportunities of the European battery industry," hosted by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2024 and supported by the Batteries European Partnership Association (BEPA) and Batteries Europe.

At the forefront of this discussion was Justo Garcia, the RESPECT project coordinator, whose insightful contribution shed light on the pivotal role of innovation and industrial challenges in battery recycling. Justo's presentation "Innovation and industrial challenges in battery recycling" not only underscored the importance of recycling in mitigating the demand for primary materials but also highlighted the imperative of reinforcing European sovereignty in this critical sector. Central to his discourse was the disruptive recycling process developed by Orano, a testament to the innovation and ingenuity driving sustainable practices within the industry.

Followed by the series of presentations the panel discussion on "Challenges and opportunities of the European battery industry" ensued.

Throughout the panel discussion moderated by Fabrice Stassin, Secretary General of BEPA, participants engaged in a multifaceted dialogue, delving into the intricacies of the new Batteries Regulation and its profound implications for the battery value chain. It became increasingly evident that the European battery industry stands at a pivotal juncture, necessitating continuous innovation, ambitious financial support from authorities, coherence of the regulatory framework, and open collaboration among stakeholders.

The call for continuous innovation reverberated across the panel, signaling a collective recognition of the imperative to embrace technological advancements and disruptive solutions to propel the industry towards a more sustainable future in Europe. From the development of novel recycling processes to the integration of renewable energy sources, innovation emerged as a cornerstone of the transition towards a circular economy.

Equally crucial was the need for ambitious financial support from authorities to incentivise sustainable practices and foster the growth of the European battery industry. Participants emphasised the pivotal role of public-private partnerships and investment incentives in driving meaningful progress and scaling up sustainable solutions.

Furthermore, the coherence of the regulatory framework emerged as a critical element for fostering a conducive environment for sustainable practices within the battery value chain. As the industry grapples with evolving regulatory landscapes, stakeholders emphasised the need for clear and consistent policies to provide certainty and facilitate long-term planning and investment.

Finally, open collaboration among stakeholders emerged as a catalysing force for driving systemic change within the European battery industry. From industry players to policymakers, academia, and civil society, a collaborative approach was deemed essential for fostering knowledge exchange, driving innovation, and overcoming shared challenges.

In essence, the panel on "Challenges and opportunities of the European battery industry" at the World Circular Economy Forum served as a reminder of the collective responsibility to advance sustainability and resource efficiency within the burgeoning battery sector. By harnessing the power of innovation, embracing ambitious policies, fostering regulatory coherence, and fostering open collaboration, stakeholders can collectively propel the European battery industry towards a more sustainable and resilient future, thereby charting a course towards a circular economy.

Speakers of the panel discussion:

Rana Pant, DG ENV

Marcel Weil, KIT

Justo Garcia, Orano

Catherine Lenaerts, Watt4Ever

Jyri Arponen, Sitra

Daniele Costa, VITO

Moderator: Fabrice Stassin, Umicore/BEPA


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