From batteries to plastics: how standards help reduce the transport industry’s environmental impact

The standardization activities of CEN and CENELEC for the transport sector on interoperability and safety requirements are well known. But CEN and CENELEC are also very active in another key topic for the transport industry: the environmental impact and circularity of materials used for vehicles and transport infrastructure.

Manufacturing vehicles and designing transport infrastructures rely heavily on the use of materials and components that can have an important environmental impact: steel, plastics, aluminium, chemical and electronical components.


Consequently, existing regulations and policies set a series of requirements for vehicles manufacturers and transport infrastructure developers to shift towards design methods that take into consideration this impact and the way to mitigate it throughout all their lifecycle.

To support these efforts and help transport manufacturers and infrastructure developers, CEN and CENELEC work at various levels:

  • The lifecycle of batteries: CEN/TC 301 ‘Road vehicles’ develops standards that can help the automotive and batteries industries by dealing notably with the conditions and protocols for the safe repair, re-use or repurpose of modules and batteries originally designed for electric vehicles applications. This work is done in the framework of the EU Standardization request M/579 to support a major EU legislation, the Regulation (EU) 2023/1542 concerning batteries and waste batteries
  • The recycling of materials used in the manufacturing of road vehicles: CEN/TC 301 is developing a technical specification (TS) that specifies recommendations for the design of plastic products used in road vehicles to facilitate separation and recycling after shredding. This technical specification is developed in the framework of the EU Standardization request M/584 on plastics recycling and recycled plastics, in support of the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy. Furthermore, CEN/TC 366 ‘Materials obtained from End-of-Life Tyres’ has develop a wide series of standards contributing to adequate treatment of the various materials produced from end-of-life tyre treatment (e.g. cuts, shreds, chips, granulates, powders, steels, textiles).
  • The use of new materials: CEN/TC 256 ‘Railways applications’ is currently developing a standard which defines a methodology to support the introduction of new materials and processes to meet the minimum requirements for all rolling stock and its on-board equipment. Using new materials is the path to best resistance and reduction of the weight of the component, but it also allows potentially the use of materials with less environmental impact in their life cycle.
  • The repair of transport logistic equipment: CEN/TC 261 ‘Packaging’ has developed a dedicated standard for the repair of flat wooden pallets that defines the minimum repair criteria that shall be used, allowing a waste reduction.
  • Environmental considerations on the design of LPG Equipment and accessories: CEN/TC 286 ‘Liquefied petroleum gas equipment and accessories’ is revising a technical specification on the environmental considerations of LPG equipment and accessories. This technical specification provides information on the environmental aspects of all phases of the life cycle of equipment and accessories design, manufacturing, operation, and disposal, and integrates climate change recommendations.
  • Sustainability of transport infrastructure construction: CEN/TC 227 ‘Road materials’ and CEN/TC 104 ‘Concrete and related products’ have worked on the environmental impact of materials typically used in the construction of transport infrastructure. The two TCs might explore the possibility to do further work on the field in the future.
  • Electronic waste: CLC/TC 111X ‘Environment’ develops standards and technical specifications on the collection, logistics & treatment requirements for waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). As vehicles and transport infrastructures rely massively on electric and electronic equipment, the work of CLC/TC 111X is of major importance also for the transport industry.

Across these multiple and non-exhaustive fields of work, CEN and CENELEC demonstrate their strong involvement in developing adequate standards on the environmental impact and the circularity of materials used for vehicles and transport infrastructure. This commitment allows the transport industry to evolve towards a holistic approach of their products that goes beyond the classical issue of vehicle emissions.


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