Tracking materials for sustainability: the battery passport


Batteries are key drivers of the energy transition, but experts agree: for them to unleash their potential, the entire value chain must be tracked. A dedicated tool, which has just been presented in Davos, records their environmental and social footprint: the battery passport

October 16, 2023

Batteries are unanimously seen as key drivers of the energy transition. However, for them to unleash their potential and play a major role in meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement, most experts agree: the entire value chain must be tracked to measure their environmental and social footprint and allow their evaluation for a second-life use. “The keyword is transparency,” says Inga Petersen, Executive Director of the Global Batteries Alliance (GBA), a public-private partnership, with members spanning from the mining companies, all the way down to recyclers. “Original equipment and car manufacturers can have up to 40 000 suppliers, so there’s no chance that they have a full overview of their products across the value chain. The most crucial issues to monitor for more ethical products are, of course, carbon footprint, child labour, and human rights.” This is also why a manifesto, agreed in June by young battery scientists from four European universities, suggested that “a good option could be the introduction of a European digital battery passport”.

Presented just a few days ago by the Global Battery Alliance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the first world battery passport has engaged a number of its members from mining companies to car manufacturers. The result is a digital twin of the physical battery that records information according to three key dimensions. The first consists of technical data, like manufacturing history and capacity, but in the long term it will also include recycled content and disassembly instructions for recyclers. The second records the origin and tracks the flows of cobalt, lithium, graphite, and other materials. “We have focused our efforts on sustainability performance and this is why we also integrated a ‘greenhouse gas rulebook’ to establish the battery carbon footprint”, says Petersen. “Further indicators will be developed, but we started by monitoring environmental footprint, child labour, and human rights because we consider them as the pillars of a sustainable and circular battery value chain.” First conceptualized in 2019, the battery passport is seen by its designers as a “key transparency tool to help enhance the sustainability of battery value chains.”

Read the full article by Diego Giuliani in the EU project Astrabat’s website at this link.

20 January 2023