Assessing the compatibility of vehicle electrification with the EU’s circular economy objective

Audrey Danthinne, Michael Picard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The electrification of vehicles and the transition to a circular economy (CE) are important aspects of the EU’s strategy to become climate neutral by 2050. However, the compatibility between these two objectives is questionable. Indeed, the lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) used in most electric vehicles (EVs) are currently difficult to recycle due to economic and practical challenges. This recycling problem increases the risk that end-of-life LIBs end up in landfills. If so, the CE would be severely punctured. Our study analyses how this potential inconsistency is addressed at the EU level by focusing on three EU legal instruments, i. e., the current and proposed regulatory framework for batteries and waste batteries, the End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive and the new Taxonomy Regulation. It observes that while the EU stands out in imposing sustainability requirements on the battery and vehicle industries, several shortcomings remain, such as the lack of specific legal provisions for LIBs, inappropriate targets and weak extended producer responsibility (EPR), which undermine the credibility of vehicle electrification as a climate change mitigation strategy in the EU.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-404
JournalEuropean Energy and Environmental Law Review
Issue number6
Early online date25 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • vehicle electrification
  • circular economy
  • lithium-ion batteries
  • recycling
  • European Union
  • zero-emission
  • waste batteries
  • electric vehicles
  • climate change mitigation
  • sustainability


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