EU: Batteries that can be replaced are legal

The European Commission (EU) is working on a proposal that would oblige smartphone sellers to use replaceable batteries in their devices.

The Dutch page Het Financieele Dagblad, which leaked A copy of the EU plans states that EU officials plan to formally submit their proposal for public debate next month, in March 2020.


The aim of the proposal is to reduce e-waste across Europe as users will now be able to replace worn or bad smartphone batteries.

Most phone manufacturers today use closed devices that prevent users from replacing batteries without voiding their warranty or that require special tools to open the device.

In addition, some manufacturers do not provide spare batteries to the general public, and replacement batteries are only available through approved device repair programs.

This particular practice has led to increased levels of e-waste, as more and more companies tend to lead users to replace entire devices if a spare part does not work properly.

Things were not like that a decade ago, since we could all buy and replace the battery in almost all smartphones, without voiding their warranty, without special tools and technical knowledge.

In recent years, however, smartphone makers have realized that they could speed up smartphone replacement cycles (and indirectly profits) by limiting access to defective parts, such as batteries, which are often a sensitive part of every device.

How does the EU plan to enforce new battery replacement regulations?

One way could be to impose a common form of battery. But this does not seem to be technically feasible, as most battery models are made for specific phones and come with size restrictions, different connections and patented technologies.

The EU's imminent proposal for easily replaceable batteries came as the EU began drafting legislation last month that would require phone makers to use a common technology for chargers for all smartphones.

Both the first and second proposals for batteries are part of an overall EU effort to reduce e-waste by promoting better technical decisions to reuse raw materials in appliances.

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