Open Letter to the European Union: The Critical Raw Materials Act Must Ensure Effective Social, Environmental and Governance Safeguards and Provide Meaningful Participation

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Dear Commissioners,
Dear Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Dear Ministers,

We, movements, Indigenous Peoples, and Civil Society Organizations, particularly but not exclusively from resource-rich countries in the Global South, are very concerned due to the lack of strong due diligence terminology and safeguards for the sourcing of raw materials in the Critical Raw Materials Act and other related legislation.

We, in resource-rich countries, are already experiencing the double impacts of the climate crisis, on one hand via the effects of climate change itself and on the other hand from the increase in mining and renewable technologies infrastructure resulting from decarbonisation plans of rich countries. The EU’s decarbonisation ambition is laudable, but to be just and fair, it has to follow the rule of law and its associated legislations have to adhere to the highest standards, including the respect of human
rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights and environmental protection, not only within the European Union, but in other resource-rich countries – including our lands and communities.

The Critical Raw Materials Act and other related legislation, such as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, among others, will have a direct impact on our health and well-being, cultural practices, traditions and values, livelihoods, and environment. People are regularly killed attempting to safeguard the environment we rely on.

For this reason, we ask you to take a human rights-based approach to decarbonisation and ensure that all rights holders and stakeholders in resource-rich countries, not only governments and the private sector, are involved in the process in a full and meaningful way. More specifically, we ask you to set the following minimum conditions for strategic projects and the sourcing of raw materials from resource-rich countries:

1) Respect human rights, Indigenous rights and adhere to international human and environmental rights legislation, agreements, and standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Conventions as well as the full Aarhus convention, the Escazú agreement as well as the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. The CRMA should ensure that companies adhere to strict mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence.

2) Ensure that strategic partnerships are formed and run in a democratic manner
Negotiations for strategic partnerships should be announced in a timely fashion and agreements with resource-rich countries should be disclosed prior to approval. The CRMA should address the high corruption risk in the mining sector.

3) Meaningful participation and accountability
Rights holders, especially Indigenous Peoples, civil society organisations and local communities, must have a stake in the governance of the CRMA and should be able to participate in the definition and monitoring of strategic projects and partnerships.

4) Minimum requirements for strategic projects
The environmental and social impacts of mining and other projects related to the energy transition should be assessed during the permitting process and projects cannot go ahead without concerned Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior Informed Consent.

Companies participating in strategic projects should have in place a clear, easily accessible, and safe grievance mechanism and a history of human rights abuses or environmental destruction should lead to the exclusion of companies. There should be a mechanism to facilitate access to justice for victims of corporate abuse and strict
sanctions for companies that fail their due diligence obligations. Instead of using self-regulation through certification schemes, companies must be monitored by governments and a neutral third party.

5) Respect our cultural practices, traditions and values, our lifestyles, and our environment
Strategic projects should respect no-go zones, including protected areas, the deep-sea, and sacred sites. Regulations on conflict minerals and minerals extracted through forced or child labour must be enforced and adopted respectively.

6) We should not just be treated as raw material suppliers
Set clear goals and clarify what it means to add value through strategic partnerships. Furthermore, support the development of our countries through climate finance, knowledge and technology transfer, the provision for local procurement and ensuring that companies pay taxes in host countries and create decent jobs.

7) Take responsibility for reducing the EU’s own consumption
In turn, this will reduce the demand for raw materials from our countries. Taking these concerns into account will be crucial to ensure climate and resource justice on a global scale. The CRMA could be an opportunity for the European Union to promote a just energy transition that pays off the historical ecological debt owed to the countries of the Global South and respects their
development models.

We urge you to take these recommendations into consideration, as the policy decisions regarding the Critical Raw Materials Act will have a large impact on our lives.



– AbibiNsroma Foundation
– Action Mines Guinée
– African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH)
– Aksi Ekologi & Emansipasi Rakyat (AEER), Indonesia
– Alliance Voahary Gasy (AVG)
– alterNativa Intercanvi amb Pobles Indígenes
– Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
– Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF)
– Bench Marks Foundation
– Cadre de Concertation de la société civile de l’Ituri sur les Ressources Naturelles
– CartoCrítica (México)
– Centre congolais pour le droit du développement durable (CODED)
– Centro de Análisis Socioambiental (CASA}, Chile
– Christi – Perú
– Coalition des Organisations de la Société Civile pour le Suivi des Réformes et de l’Action Publique
– Coalition Nationale de Plaidoyer Environnemental (CNPE)
– Coalition Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez-Mali (PCQVP-MALI)
– Comité Nacional pro Defensa de la Fauna y Flora
– CooperAcción
– Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC)
– Corporate Europe Observatory
– Crudo Transparente
– Cultural Survival
– Debt Observatory in Globalisation (ODG)
– Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales
– Ecosistemas
– Engenera, A.C.
– Enginyeria sense Fronteres
– Focus Association for Sustainable Development
– Forest Peoples Programme
– Forests of the World
– Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo – TI Ecuador
– Fundación Foro Nacional por Colombia – Capítulo Suroccidente
– Fundación Terram
– Funprosperiti Guatecivica
– Future-Prenuers Zambia (FPSZ)
– Global Witness
– Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana
– Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ)
– Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense -AIDA
– – Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global
– Legisladores x el Ambiente ALC
– Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)
– Observatoire d’Etudes et d’Appui à la Responsabilité Sociale et Environnementale (OEARSE)
– Observatorio Petrolero Sur
– Pakistan Development Alliance
– Perkumpulan HuMa Indonesia
– Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
– Pole Institute (DR Congo)
– Policy Forum Guyana
– Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez Madagascar
– Publish What You Pay Zambia
– Red de Información y Acción Ambiental de Veracruz, México
– Réseau panafricain de lutte contre la corruption “UNIS”
– Resource Matters
– Satya Bumi
– Securing Indigenous Peoples Rights in the Green Economy (SIRGE) Coalition
– SETEM Catalunya
– Solidaritat Castelldefels Kasando
– Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
– Spaces for Change
– Transparency International Initiative Madagascar
– Transparency International Zambia
– Trend Asia
– Universidad nacional de Colombia, Facultad de minas Medellín, Centro de pensamiento responsabilidad y sostenibilidad minera

A Turning Point: The Critical Raw Materials Act’s needs to be truly socially and environmentally just

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We support the position promoted by more than 40 civil society organisations, to demand that the Critical First Raw Material Act have a fair social and green transition.

The 21st century demands global efforts to address the multiple social and environmental crises that we are facing, which also negatively impacts the economy. Solutions exist, but demand political will (such as product ecodesign legislation or singular use product bans), and a political discourse to develop new tools (such as energy production limits) for transformative, equitable change that brings humanity comfortably back within planetary boundaries. 

Most of the converging social and environmental crises we are facing are a result of the over-consumption of resources. This is driven by unsustainable production and consumption patterns in increasingly unequal societies, regardless of the level of development of any given country.

We present this Position Paper, by more than 40 civil society organisations, which delves into the main issues that arise within this context in regard to the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) and provides key recommendations.

  1. The EU should actively reduce its dependence on primary raw materials and implement demand-side solutions to decrease critical raw materials consumption by at least 10% by 2030, including phasing out single-use products containing critical raw materials, implementing a material passport system, and adopting national programs to promote material efficiency and the use of alternative materials.
  2. The CRMA should not rely solely on certification schemes, as certification alone does not guarantee compliance with mandatory human rights and environmental regulations; instead, a broader assessment of human rights and environmental performance should be conducted. If certification schemes are used as one tool of many, they have to include certain criteria as minimum a multi-stakeholder governance, adherence to comprehensive standards, disclosure rules, accessible grievance mechanisms, and public audit reports.
  3. The CRMA’s focus on EU supply security through partnerships lacks a global justice approach. Including concrete measures to ensure sustainability standards, civil society participation, and the protection of human rights and the environment in third countries. Our recommendations include aligning partnerships with international agreements, implementing robust monitoring and remediation mechanisms, defining “value addition,” supporting domestic industrialisation, involving civil society and Indigenous Peoples, ensuring transparency, and avoiding the undermining of commitments through other regulations or trade agreements.
  4. The CRMA’s focus on accelerating permitting procedures for Strategic Projects risks bypassing environmental and social safeguards and lacks public buy-in. Streamlined permitting must not come at the cost of environmental protection, meaningful public participation. Incorporating elements like Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and Indigenous rights must be at the center of strategic projects. Additionally, resources to licensing authorities have to be allocated, international agreements referenced, transparency ensured and a subgroup on sustainability and responsible mining within the European Critical Raw Materials Board established. Deep-sea mining due to potential environmental and social impacts has to be prohibited.
  5. For the success of the European Green Deal and the EU’s strategic autonomy, it is crucial to prioritise a circular economy approach in the CRMA. This includes implementing an ambitious recycling strategy, enhancing coherence with the waste hierarchy, increasing EU recycling capacity targets, improving collection and separation of critical raw materials (CRM)-containing components, proposing recycled content targets for all CRM-containing products, incorporating measures for public procurement, and ensuring that the recovery of mining waste follows comprehensive regulations and includes plans for remediation of historical pollution.
  6. The CRMA should include comprehensive rules for calculating and verifying the environmental footprint of critical raw materials. This requires clear criteria for determining a significant environmental footprint, taking into account the impact on circularity and recycling, international standards, and sustainable practices, conducting prior assessments and consultations with relevant stakeholders, allowing the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change to provide scientific advice, ensuring environmental footprint declarations for all critical raw materials placed on the market, including intermediate and final products, and the adoption of delegated acts to establish environmental footprint performance classes with specific parameters.

Read the position paper..

The highest volum of imported products at-risk of modern slavery worldwide were electronics during 2021, according to the ‘Global Slavery Index 2023’

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US$468 billion of G20 nations imports are goods at risk of modern slavery, as the electronics plays a major role.

Modern slavery takes many forms and is known by many names: forced labour, forced or serville marriage, forced commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices, and the sale and exploition of children. In all its forms, we’re talking about “the systematic elimination of people’s freedom”, where they cannot reject situations of exploitation for threats, direct violence, coercion or deception. This is defined by the Global Slavery Index 2023 report by Walk Free, which estimates that 50 million people have lived in modern slavery worldwide during 2021 – 10 million more people compared to the figures published in 2018 –. The study has been carried out with data from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Walk Free and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which reveals 1 in 4 are children, while 54% are women.

A deeply related practise with the G20 nations consumer culture

There are diferents causes for this practice, as the report points out, but G20 nations’ consumer culture is closely related. The data indicate that although the greatest prevalence of forced labour is in countries with the lowest income, these are related to the demand of higher income countries. In this regard, the report highlights the role played by the G20 nations, as almost two thirds of all cases of forced labour relate to global supply chains, that is to say, in the extraction of raw materials and at production stages.

Electronics markets with the most products at risk of forced labour

G20 nations import US$468 billion of at-risk products annually, as the electronics sector plays a major role.The top five highest value at-risk products imported by the G20 were electronics (US$243.6 billion), followed by germents (US$147.9 billion), palm oil (US$19.7 billion), solar panels (US$14.8 billion), and textile (US$12.7 billion).

The study also points out that electronic products imported by the G20 countries from China and Malaysia remain at the highest risk, also recording in Malaysia cases of forced labour of migrant workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Indonesia.


The report calls on governments around the world to immediately take the following five key actions:

– Implement stronger measures to combat forced labour in public and private supply chains by introducing legislation to stop governments and businesses from sourcing goods or services linked to modern slavery.
– Embed anti-slavery measures in humanitarian and crisis responses, and ensure that human rights are embedded in efforts to build a green economy.
– Prioritise human rights when engaging with repressive regimes, by conducting due diligence to ensure that any trade, business, or investment is not contributing to or benefitting from state-imposed forced labour, including where it occurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
– Focus on prevention and protection for vulnerable populations by providing primary and secondary education for all children, including girls.
– Ensure effective civil and criminal protections in legislation to tackle forced and child marriage, including raising the age of marriage to 18 for girls and boys, with no exceptions.

Visit the complete report.

We are calling for the destruction of unsold electronic products to stop!

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SETEM Catalunya, as members of the European Right to Repair campaign, we join in the letter addressed to European parliamentarians, calling for the new European Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation to ban the destruction of unsold electronic and textile products, along with 45 other NGOs throughout Europe.

The destruction of unsold products represents the most wasteful scenario conceivable in a linear economy. Throughout the process of manufacturing these products there are strong social and environmental impacts: water pollution, extraction of raw materials, pollution caused by distribution, precarious working conditions in the textile and electronic sector, among others.

Electric and electronic equipment remains one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, with an annual growth rate of 2%. In addition, these are toxic waste, and the collection rate is still low (less than 40% of electronic waste is recycled in the EU (2)). Closely related digital services account for 4.2% of European GHG emissions, of which 54% comes from the manufacture of electronic equipment (3).

Analysis from France suggests that around 1% of all electronic appliances remain unsold and
destroyed each year.i In the case of just microwaves and kettles alone, it is estimated that
98,000 and 140,000 units are destroyed respectively each year. For these two products this
represents 25,000 tonnes of CO2eq, 690 tonnes of steel, 110 tonnes of glass, 2 million litres
of water annually (4).

Ending the destruction of unsold goods will bring a number of benefits:
Reducing environmental impacts and preventing waste from the textile and EEE
Promoting industrial design and management innovation towards ending
overproduction in the first place
Remaining unsold goods provide an opportunity for secondary markets, for example
feeding refurbishers and social economy actors with new products and parts
Supporting strategic autonomy by reducing Europe’s economic dependency on natural
resource depletion, including for Critical Raw Materials

The economic opportunity of finding new markets and utility for unsold products should not be
underestimated. Projections show the value of destroyed electronics and clothing in the EU
will amount to €21.74 billion by 2022, which is larger than the entire GDP of Cyprus for the
year 2020. If no policy measures are taken, this could increase to up to €71.29 billion by 2030, as much as the revenue generated by the entire German ecommerce market in 2019.(5).

Read English letter here.

Share tweet here!


1. ADEME (2021). Etude des gisements et causes des invendus non alimentaires et de leurs voies d’écoulement. (including footwear)
2. Eurostat (2023) Waste Statistics – Electrical and Electronic Equipment.
3. (2021) Digital technologies in Europe: an environmental life cycle approach (summary report).
4. Cambridge Econometrics (2023) New EU eco-design proposals: case studies to illustrate their potential impact.
5. Okopol (2021) Policy brief on Prohibiting the Destruction of Unsold Goods.


Foxconn workers in China flee the factory en masse

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This past October there was an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou in China, the largest complex that produces iPhones for Apple, which houses different production plants. At the time, a spokesperson for Apple’s supplier said the impact was manageable and conditions at the factory were stable. However, the company prioritized maintaining production, rather than protecting workers from the outbreak. This unleashed further contagion, to which the company responded with very strict confinement measures.

On Monday, November 7, The Wall Street Journal published a report based on interviews with more than two dozen Foxconn workers and their family members, and the company’s announcements on its WeChat account.

Employees alleged that they began to comply with quarantine on October 7, and that they could not leave their production unit for 27 hours, until they were transferred to a new block of bedrooms in the complex, where they were quarantined for a few days. The workers complained about the lack of food and medicine supplies for the infected people. The situation reached such a point that, on October 28, many decided to leave the factory, on their own feet or using government buses to take them home. Foxconn offered five incentives for people who changed their minds and went back to work.

The iPhone manufacturer has not disclosed the number of COVID cases that have occurred. The company reportedly downplayed the dangers of contracting the virus, sharing statements from medical experts on the female workforce.

Some people did not believe that people returning to work after quarantine had still tested negative. Instead, one rumor claimed it was a plan to mix COVID patients with healthy people to promote herd immunity.

This episode highlights the tension between the need to continue bussiness activities and China’s desire to maintain the 0 COVID-19 policy. In much of the world, it seems that the COVID-19 pandemic is already winding down, but in China the situation is not yet back to normal.

Apple must investigate Zhengzhou's Foxconn factory
CHANGE.ORG -> Apple must investigate Zhengzhou’s Foxconn factory

A petition of signatures has been organized calling for Apple to take its responsibility to fully investigate the incident at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory. We ask these questions to be answered under an independent investigation authorized by Apple:

  1. In mid-October, outbreaks occurred at the factory, creating harsh conditions that affected even those who were not infected. Why did Foxconn wait until October 30 to acknowledge this? What was Foxconn hiding, and why?

  2. How many Foxconn workers contracted COVID-19 in October?

  3. How many Foxconn workers died in October? What are the causes of death?

  4. Who authorized the order prohibiting the workers from leaving the factory in October? What was the reason?

  5. Why were the infected workers not given medical supplies?

  6. Why were there cases in the distribution of essential products in the factory area?

  7. What were Foxconn’s standards for housing conditions for workers during lockdown? How many people were isolated in October?

  8. Why weren’t there enough isolation areas equipped with adequate basic supplies for workers?

  9. How many temporary workers does the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory currently hire? Why don’t they have another type of contract?

  10. Is there evidence of forced labor during the closed loop production period?

  11. Are there workers whose movements have been forcibly restricted during the closed circuit production period? Who were the people who implemented these policies?

Sign the petition here!






The European Parliament calls for removable and replaceable batteries

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This week, the European Parliament voted in favor of making batteries more sustainable, including making them removable and replaceable. MEPs were voting in plenary on their report on  the battery regulation proposed by the European Commission in 2020. They adopted an ambitious position on the issue of removability and replaceability of batteries, a key aspect to extend the lifetime of electronic products sold in Europe. This doesn’t mean user replaceable batteries anytime soon, though, as this only represents the Parliament’s position and the battle for a final, ambitious regulation with the Council still needs to happen.

Another tool in the Right to Repair toolbox

While the regulation will cover many aspects of a battery lifecycle such as due diligence, the carbon footprint from manufacturing, collection, recycling and the use of recycled content, as well as clear labeling, it is also expected to address their removability and replaceability.

As lithium batteries are found in everything from smartphones to scooters, electric cars and energy storage for smart grids, ensuring they can be removed and replaced when they fail is absolutely essential to ensure products can last for longer and prevent unnecessary waste.

Moreover, the report calls for the user replaceability of batteries in all consumer electronics and light means of transport. If this becomes law, it would no longer be possible for manufacturers selling such products in the EU to power them with integrated batteries. When it comes to e-bikes and e-scooters, MEPs called for enabling the replaceability of battery cells by independent repairers, as well as the prevention of the use of software to block the replacement of batteries or other key components.

The Parliament report also called for the batteries for consumer electronics and light means of transport to be available as spare parts for a minimum of 10 years after the last model was placed on the market.

Still a long way to go

With this vote, the European Parliament adopts an ambitious position on the removability and replaceability of batteries, in line with its recent votes calling for the Right to Repair.

The next step now is negotiations between the Council and the Parliament on their respective positions and amendments to the Commission’s proposal. However, the Council’s current position on battery removability is extremely weak and a compromise risks watering down the initial ambition to make batteries removable and replaceable for all electronic products sold in the EU and to make them available as spare parts. Indeed, the Council’s current text plans a vague loophole for products used in “wet conditions”, only considers the battery pack as a unit and not the components that create it, does not ensure that batteries should be available as spare parts nor addresses the use of software to prevent replacement and repair.

A final decision on the Council’s position should be made during the Environment Council on the 17th of March.

Meanwhile, if negotiations go well, the regulation could be adopted in 2022. However, the “entry into force” date is still very far and the timeline for specific measures to become law in member states remains unclear. The Parliament report calls for measures on battery removability to apply from the 1st January 2024. But the latest Council document suggests a 12 to 24 month delay for these measures from the entry into force date in order to give ample time for the industry to adapt. This could lead to the applicability of repairability requirements happening way further down the line, possibly in 2026 or even after.

Serbia: Wave of protests achieves victories against lithium mining

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Summary of the article written by Francisco Norega in

To foster economic growth, the Serbian government has recently made mineral resources available to foreign investors such as Rio Tinto and the Chinese mining group Zijin. Rio Tinto intends to open a 400-hectare lithium mine in an agricultural area along the Jadar River, 14 km from Loznica, a city of 20,000 inhabitants in western Serbia.

The company assures that it would be a “green mine”, that it would comply with all Serbian and European environmental regulations, and that the project would create 2,000 jobs during construction and 1,000 permanent ones. However, these promises did not convince the population, who are concerned about the destruction caused by mining activity and the contamination of land and water.

At the center of the protests there were also two legislative projects that, according to the protesters, were intended to facilitate the exploitation of lithium by multinational mining companies. The new Expropriation Law would allow the forced expropriation of land by the State when the projects are considered to be of public interest, within a period of only eight days.

Critics of this law indicated that it is unacceptable that the government has the right to make the declaration of public interest in a way that is not transparent, arbitrary and without defined criteria. On the other hand, the reform of the Referendum Law would effectively prevent groups and movements from launching referendum initiatives by creating a high administrative fee for this type of popular initiatives. It would also allow inquiries to be considered valid even when participation is less than 50%.

Environmental groups and civil society asserted that these laws would allow the government and businesses to sidestep popular discontent and environmental concerns and move more quickly with projects like the Rio Tinto one.

For all these reasons, for the second Saturday in a row, on December 4, new protests took to the streets of Serbia. In total, the protesters gathered at more than 60 points in cities, towns and highways across the country. It was the largest wave of coordinated protests in Serbia in more than 20 years. Tens of thousands of people sent a clear message to the government to stop the Rio Tinto project in Jadar and all other lithium extraction projects.

The Kreni-promeni movement, one of the groups organizing the protests, called on the population to block roads, bridges and streets for one more hour every Saturday until the demands are accepted.

Given the magnitude of the protests, the government ended up announcing a few days later, on December 8, that it was withdrawing the expropriation law from parliament, as it was reexamined and modified by the President, and the subsequent opening of a broad public debate with the participation of women workers, professional associations, representatives of companies and civil society.

Strong popular pressure and the threat of a new round of protests and blockades provoked another concession from the authorities: two days later, on Friday, Parliament approved the amendments to the referendum law at the proposal of the government. Not only was the administrative fee for popular referendum initiatives eliminated and the participation of the proposing groups in the body conducting the consultation was allowed, but it was also established that a referendum on the same issue cannot be repeated for a period of 4 years, nor can the parliament make a decision other than the referendum for the same period.

However, despite the fact that the Kreni-Promeni group said that the main demands had been met and that, therefore, it would not make sense to continue on the street, other groups and movements maintained the calls for protests for the following day, Saturday. Despite the concessions, the rain and the cold, and although in fewer numbers than on previous Saturdays, thousands of people took to the streets again on December 11 and again blocked traffic in the capital and other cities.

On December 16, the movement made another breakthrough: the Loznica municipal council approved the suspension of the development plan that allowed Rio Tinto to extract lithium in the Jadar region.

More information

Non-replaceable batteries are bad news for the environment and consumers

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Campaigner, Right to Repair Europe

Most batteries cannot be easily removed, replaced or repaired, resulting in shorter device lifetimes.

Planning to buy a smartphone, an e-bike or any other product that includes a rechargeable battery for Christmas? This new research, carried out by the Right to Repair campaign in collaboration with the EEB and the University of Lund shows that most batteries in today’s products cannot be easily removed, replaced or repaired, resulting in shorter device lifetimes, a loss of rare and valuable materials and billions in unnecessary consumer expenditure.

Batteries can be found in most of today’s products from smartphones, laptops and tablets to electric bikes and scooters, and estimates show that the demand will continue to grow in the next decade (up to 60% for batteries in consumer electronics and 15% for electric bikes and scooters by 2030).

Yet, at a time when Europe claims to be a leader on climate and sustainability issues, too many batteries are either non-replaceable or non-repairable resulting in shorter product lifetime, increased electronic waste, loss of critical raw materials and unnecessary expenditure for consumers.

These are some findings of a report released today by the European Environmental Bureau, the Right to Repair campaign and researchers at the University of Lund.

Different products, same challenges

Whenever a battery’s performance slows down, it doesn’t mean the whole device should be discarded. Repairing or replacing it enables consumers to keep using their product, preventing unnecessary e-waste and the purchase of a replacement. Yet, the research has found that many challenges exist to access batteries to replace or repair them.

Welded or glued battery casings for instance make it impossible to access the faulty part while software locks, in particular for e-bikes, prevent refurbishment by independent repairers and shortages of spares and tools make it impossible to repair or replace batteries.

Replaceable batteries: good for the planet, good for people

The study found that battery failure is one of the most common problems for many consumer electronics and often the first component to fail in e-bikes and scooters. 42% of smartphones and 27% of laptops repairs are related to battery replacement.

“This is extremely worrying as the average battery life for these products is around 3 years and the majority of repairers we talked to said that the risk of damaging a device while removing the battery has increased. This suggests that a significant number of devices are being prematurely discarded due to battery failure”

Chloé Mikolajczak, campaigner, Right to Repair Europe

In contrast, the benefits of replaceable removable batteries are numerous. For instance, if all new phones and tablets sold in the EU in 2030 had easily removable and replaceable batteries, 674,834 tons of CO2 could be saved, €19.8 billion wouldn’t be spent as a result of the unnecessary replacement of 39 million devices, and critical raw materials urgently needed for the energy transition such as cobalt and indium would not be lost.

Similarly, making batteries easy to remove would increase their collection rates and reduce the safety risks associated with recycling. Currently, it is estimated that 80% of batteries at waste facilities are removed manually and recyclers report that battery removal has become increasingly complicated, resulting in lower removal and recycling rates.

Another consequence of the increased difficulty of removing batteries is the number of fires at recycling facilities. A recent report  on the scale of fire incidents in the EU that surveyed over 100 companies from 20 countries found that 1/3 of recyclers surveyed reported very serious fire incidents in connection with defective batteries. This is why a coalition of electronic and battery repairers, the recycling industry and environmental NGOs representing at least 500 organisations published a joint statement today calling on the European Commission to take action for more removable, replaceable and repairable batteries in the forthcoming battery regulation.

Time for ambitious regulation

Indeed, timing is critical. The European Commission has proposed a “Battery regulation” that aims to tackle the whole lifecycle of batteries from the supply chain to its disposal, in a bid to make them more sustainable. The proposal, currently in the hands of the European Parliament and Council, addresses the removability of batteries but does not address key issues such as: including light electric vehicles in the scope, addressing spare parts availability, preventing software locks and avoiding unnecessary exemptions and loopholes.

“While there are many companies working to replace, repair and recycle batteries from electronics like smartphones and e-bikes, poor product design and software are making this increasingly challenging or impossible. Manufacturers are wasting precious resources and forcing consumers to replace devices before they need to. The European Council and Parliament now negotiating the European Batteries Regulation have the power to address all of these issues.”


Pierre Schweitzer, Policy Officer for product policy at the EEB,

Photo by Frankie on Unsplash

Union win for Turkish workers producing smart phones

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When Salcomp Turkey, who produces smart phones for Chinese Xiaomi, the second largest smartphone maker in the world, fired 170 workers for joining a union, the union members took action. After six days, Salcomp agreed to reinstate all dismissed workers.

Last month, workers at Salcomp decided to join IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Turk Metal. In return, company management launched a union busting campaign; workers were intimidated, threatened and 170 union members were dismissed. Around 80 per cent of the dismissed workers are women.

When workers protested against the union busting on company grounds, management responded by locking all doors. According to reports, workers inside the factory were not allowed to use the toilets and were banned from using use their mobile phones, cutting off communication with other workers.

But after six days the protests yielded result. Salcomp management agreed to reinstate all dismissed union members, withdraw from the lawsuit challenging the CBA certificate issued by Ministry of Labour and start collective bargaining negotiations on 1 October.

“When we come together, we win. Thanks to the action taken and the attention from international solidarity, the workers’ right to organize has been recognized,”

says Pevrul Kavlak, president of Türk Metal and member of IndustriALL Executive Committee.

“We congratulate Türk Metal and their members on this union win, and welcome the company’s commitment to engaging in genuine social dialogue,”

says Atle Høie, IndustruALL general secretary.

Xiaomi is a multinational electronics company founded in April 2010 and headquartered in Beijing. Xiaomi makes a wide range of electronics products, such as smartphones, laptops, home appliances, and consumer electronics.


Reposted from IndustriALL’s website, fellow member of GoodElectronics

“Delivering Due Diligence” – A Timely Educational Series

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Electronics WatchIndustriAll Global Union, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office and Rethinking Value Chains come together to deliver an educational series on human rights and environmental due diligence.

The new webinar series, with simultaneous translation to/from French, will develop an understanding of due diligence that can benefit workers and communities in a meaningful, measurable and transparent way. We will show how public buyers can apply and demand such a due diligence in their procurement process.

Public buyers consider social and environmental impacts of their procurement already now. The idea of human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) is increasingly central to their activities, putting forward the challenge for public buyers of how to verify and enforce it. But what is due diligence? And how can it be measured and enforced?

With this series we want to deliver input for the discussion around the European Commission proposal for mandatory HREDD.

Six sessions will expand on central aspects of HREDD and its role in public procurement, ranging from verification, enforcement and, remedy, to policies and practices, as well as supporting services for public buyers.

Monday, November 22, 2021, 13:00—14:30 CET

1. Scope of Due Diligence: Tiers, Risks, and Transparency

NB. There will be simultaneous translation to/from French

Speakers at the first session include:

  • Heidi Hautala, Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Committee on International Trade and of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Founder of the European Parliament working group for Responsible Business Conduct
  • Kan Matsuzaki, Assistant General Secretary, Director, ICT, Electrical and Electronics, Shipbuilding and Shipbreaking, IndustriALL
  • Kristin Tallbo, Sustainability Strategist, Adda Central Purchasing Body, Sweden
  • Alejandro García Esteban, Policy Officer, European Coalition for Corporate Justice
  • Matthew Galvin, Responsible Purchasing Manager, Greater London Authority, England

Click here for more details and to register.