May 31, 2024

Interview with our partner ERION

As part of our series of interviews with FREE4LIB partners, Laura Mascheretti and Gaia Diletta Pivari tell us more about the role of ERION in FREE4LIB's project.

Why did Erion join in FREE4LIB project?

Erion Energy is an extended producer responsibility system that manages waste batteries, and was born when FREE4LIB started. The goal was to know the research related with batteries, also from a technical perspective, and to get closer with challenges for end-of-life (EoL) batteries. Building a stakeholder network in this research field was also important to create connections and establishing Erion Energy as relevant PRO system in EU.

Erion is involved in many work packages of FREE4LIB: what role do you play there and how is it articulated from one WP to another?
Erion is mostly involved in WP2: End-of-life LIBs Collection and Characterisation, Digital Tools and Battery Passports deployment. There, we conducted a mapping of the end-of-life value chain, focusing on packaging, collection, and logistic aspects. Guidelines on safe storage have been drafted, as well as opinions from relevant stakeholders on the Battery Regulation 2023/1542 and the Digital Battery Passport (DBP). Erion provided knowledge about volumes, data and actors involved in the EoL of batteries to facilitate the sharing of information and design the DBP. Erion collected EOL LIBs with the involvement of retailers and waste treatment plants and sent them to research partners, providing batteries for recycling activities.
But Erion is also active in other work packages. In WP3 (Recycling technologies and materials re-using for Li-batteries), Erion helps in validating the results and outcomes of the WP. In WP5, which focuses on Impact assessment and Battery Passport, Erion serves as information provider on waste management to perform life-cycle assessment, social life-cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis.
More broadly, Erion follows several WPs of FREE4LIB to help partners working on different processes toadapt to the current reality. It offers suggestions on developing realistic and cost-effective technologies, while also connecting stakeholders and raising awareness about extended producer responsibility systems, which might be unfamiliar to research partners, waste flows and volumes.

What can you expect to be the main challenges which the project will have to face in the future?

The main challenge will appear in the scale-up step, when results from the laboratory will allow us to determine which technologies will be feasible to be scaled. Another challenge will be related to the Battery Passports which, in our opinion, will be the key point to produce a genuine change in the battery value chain, where tracking traceability allows all the value chain actors to reduce costs, risks and times of handling end-of-life batteries.

Has Erion already obtained significant main finding results or preliminary results as part of the FREE4LIB project?

Yes, Erion submitted a report on Best practices and optimisation of LIBs packaging, collection and logistics, where it has been found that several actors are skeptical about the Battery Regulation that came into force in February 2024. Specifically, they miss a unique model for the DBP, and this is an information that might be useful in the DBP design and deployment. Moreover, Erion sent the EoL LIBs modules to other partners.

What are the next steps planned for Erion within the FREE4LIB project?

Erion is planning an activity with Italian technical assistance centres to collect data about LMT waste flows. Erion will also organise workshops on how to safely store these batteries.

How are the other players in the project contributing to the success of Erion's initiatives?

Erion mostly interacts with Recyclia and Accurec. Communication with Recyclia allows to compare Italian and Spanish PRO systems, underlining positive and negative aspects. Whereas Accurec is a precious partner to get to know the reality of recycling plants.

What can you expect to be the main challenges which the project will have to face in the future?

The technologies that are studied in FREE4LIB must be upscaled to industrial level, and this might be hindered by low waste volumes. Collection of battery waste is an aspect that must be tackled to favour the development of such industrial recycling plants, and PROs play an important role in ensuring that these collection targets are met.

A few words about ERION:
Erion is the largest Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) in Italy. It manages several waste flows, namely: waste from electric and electronic devices (domestic and professional), waste from batteries and accumulators (Erion Energy), packaging waste, waste from tobacco and textile industries. Erion provides services and assistance to producers who must comply with collection targets. On the other hand, Erion organises the collection in the whole Italian territory, managing interactions with logistic operators and ensuring compliance with current regulations. The strategic development & innovation team is currently involved in 17 EU funded projects with the aim of conducting research activities and studies for other departments. Regarding batteries, Erion main activities are: mapping of flows such as LMT,improving cooperation with other Italian PROs to deliver quality services to producers, and communication campaigns to increase the collection by involving citizens.

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