EU’s Proposal to Label Lithium as Toxic May Hurt the Continent’s EV Industry

Lithium and battery industry warns the European Union that its proposal to label the battery metal as a reproductive toxin could hurt Europe’s electric vehicle (EV) industry.

Lithium is a key material for EV batteries, and also used in pharmaceuticals, industrial lubricants and specialty glasses. A proposal being considered by the European Commission includes measures to put some lithium chemicals in the highest category of reproductive and developmental toxins, based partly on human studies carried out in the 1980s and 1990s.

Lobby groups argue that such a move will stigmatize use of lithium and cut investment in the EV sector. EVs play a crucial role in green efforts and automakers have warned that soaring materials prices and supply-chain bottlenecks threaten their production.

Lobby groups raised concerns about the bloc’s scientific rationale for the classification, which would include lithium chemicals in a group of “substances of very high concern” alongside severely carcinogenic and mutagenic toxins that the EU wants to gradually phase out by restricting usage.

But the Commission also designated lithium as a critical material in 2020, and the new classification could jeopardize efforts to boost domestic production of the battery metal.

Categorizing the chemicals as reproductive and developmental toxins could impose higher costs on buyers and shrink producers’ margins, hindering the rationale for further investment in the industry, according to lithium producers.

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