Strengthening the circular economy: Insights from the World Circular Economy Forum 2024

Published on the 19th April 2024

The World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) is the world’s premier event for circular economy visionaries, practitioners, and leaders. Watt4Ever was there too!


From 15 to 16 April, the WCEF took place in Brussels, showcasing some of the most impactful circular solutions from around the world. Catherine Lenaerts, founder and deputy CEO of Watt4Ever, was one of the speakers. She shared valuable insights on the challenges and opportunities within the European battery sector.

With the support of Circular Flanders, Catherine highlighted the importance and growing awareness around repurposing batteries from electric and hybrid vehicles (HEV). After a life of 10 to 15 years as a propulsion system in a vehicle, the modules of a HEV battery can get a 2nd life as a stationary storage system for renewable energy.

Such applications are still insufficiently known and could make an important contribution to the sustainable disposal of the growing number of end-of-life HEV batteries. It significantly extends a battery’s lifetime and also reduces the CO2 impact up to 80% compared to using a new battery.

Such circular applications were overlooked in the previous battery directive. Watt4Ever is therefore very pleased to have had the opportunity to raise awareness of this issue at WCEF. This awareness represents an important paradigm shift in more sustainable and circular practices in the battery industry.

A central theme of Catherine’s talk was the need to give companies, which give batteries a second life, access to crucial battery data. Shared battery information not only streamlines the evaluation process, but also significantly lowers associated costs, making battery repurposing a more economically viable option. By using data-driven insights, we can optimise resource use, minimise waste and extend battery life, thus contributing to a more sustainable future.

However, despite these encouraging developments, challenges remain on the horizon. The tension between repurpose and recycling targets within EU regulations is a major hurdle that needs to be addressed. Achieving alignment and synergy between these targets is essential to foster an environment conducive to the growth of the ‘reuse’ industry. Only through joint efforts and proactive policy measures can we unlock the full potential of battery reuse and repurposing and accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

Scaling up this business is not just a matter of choice; it is a necessity to achieve our sustainability goals. The circular economy provides a compelling framework for rethinking our approach to resource management and consumption. By prioritising innovation, collaboration and sustainability, we can pave the way for a more resilient and regenerative future.

At Watt4Ever, we are committed to championing positive change within the battery industry and beyond. Through our commitment to innovation and sustainability, we aim to play a pivotal role in advancing the circular economy.