India Prepares Blueprint for Battery Waste Management

Stakeholders and the public can send their objections and suggestions within the next two months


The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) recently issued a draft notification for battery waste management.

The regulations will apply to all types of batteries as listed in the Schedule-I, regardless of their shape, volume, weight, material, and composition, or use.

Under Schedule-I, the batteries have been categorized under two sections. They are primary cells or non-rechargeable batteries and secondary cells or chargeable batteries.

Alkaline,  aluminum-air batteries, or Grove cell, or Clark cell, or Zinc chloride battery, are categorized under primary cells. On the other hand, flow battery, Lithium-air battery, and Lithium-ion polymer battery are listed under the category of the secondary cell.

As per the proposed draft, no one can sell a battery that contains more than 0.0005% (5 ppm) of mercury by weight or a portable battery that contains more than 0.002% of cadmium. No person can sell a battery or battery pack unless it is marked with the “crossed-out wheeled bin symbol.”

In the case of cylindrical cells, the crossed-out wheeled bin symbol will cover at least 2% of the surface area of the battery or battery pack.

The government has further stated that it will be the responsibility of manufacturer, importer, assembler, and re-conditioner to ensure that the used batteries are collected back against the new batteries which have been sold. They are also supposed to set up collection centers at various places for the collection of used batteries from consumers or dealers.

It will also be the responsibility of the manufacturers and dealers to send the collected batteries to the registered recyclers. Apart from this, the manufacturers and dealers are to ensure that no damage to the environment occurs during the transportation of used batteries, and no acid should be drained in case of used lead-acid batteries.

The government has proposed that manufacturers will have to use the international recycling sign on the batteries. In case of any violation, the matter must be reported to the state board or the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

It should be ensured that the new batteries are sold only to the dealers, bulk consumers, and to the original equipment manufacturers registered with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) or any agency designated by it.

For the recyclers, the government has proposed that they need to develop a central recycling facility with a capacity greater than 10,000 tons/year to make adequate pollution control.

The draft also specifies that the customs clearance on imports of new batteries will depend on a valid registration with the Reserve Bank of India with an importer’s code number.

Meanwhile, these regulations do not apply to batteries, which are used in medical equipment, space exploration, emergency alarm system, and war material.

Last year, the MNRE issued draft guidelines for performance testing of batteries (lead-acid and nickel-based chemistry type) series approval for mandatory registration with the Bureau of Indian Standards.

Battery energy storage system (BESS) was brought under the ambit of the Solar Photovoltaics, Systems, Devices, and Component Goods (Requirement for Compulsory Registration under the BIS Act Order 2017) which was implemented on April 16, 2018.

As the Indian renewable energy industry expands, the government is trying to catch up with quality issues and is setting up testing guidelines to ensure all products sold meet established standards. MNRE issued a new National Lab Policy in December 2017 to improve the quality and reliability of renewable energy projects in India.

Because batteries are of varying sizes, ratings, and types, each category of batteries is to be grouped when submitting samples to test labs and will be granted approval for the series (group) of products based on testing of representatives’ models.

The government also issued a proposal to set up a national mission on transformative mobility and battery storage initiatives last year. The Cabinet has also approved the creation of the Phased Manufacturing Program (PMP) to support the development of large-scale, export-competitive integrated batteries and cell-manufacturing giga-scale projects in India. The Phased Manufacturing Program will be valid for five years until 2024 and help in localization of production across the entire electric vehicle value chain. The program is expected to be finalized by the national mission on transformative mobility and battery storage.

Meanwhile, in 2019, global VC funding (venture capital, private equity, and corporate venture capital) for battery storage, smart grid, and efficiency companies totaled $2.3 billion compared to $2.8 billion raised in 2018. These numbers were revealed the annual and Q4 funding and M&A report by Mercom Capital Group.

Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.