Battery making in Europe still hangs in the balance as lead remains under scrutiny by the European Commission’s REACH division. Four lead compounds irreplaceable in battery making were formally added to the candidate list in December 2012.
If authorised, battery makers would incur a significant cost to continue using them. Lead monoxide, lead tetroxide, tetralead trioxide sulphate and pentalead tetraoxide sulphate were added to the REACH list following proposal in August and public consultation that ran until October.
The ILA called it “deeply regrettable” that the European Commission chose to pursue this route rather than carrying out a risk assessment before identifying the substances as SVHCs, (a substance of very high concern).
EUROBAT’s EU Affairs Manager Michel Baumgartner said: “It didn’t come as a surprise because it’s the logical conclusion to the consultation – lead substances are repro-toxic. What we do regret is that it’s a political decision to achieve the target number of chemicals on the list before the end of 2012.”
At this stage there are no obligations for battery manufacturers using the lead substances. Baumgartner said: “It constitutes an information obligation along the supply chain and it starts with whoever makes the substance. But because there is none of the substance in the finished article, it does not pose an obligation to the battery manufacturers themselves.”
Agreeing to evaluate the risk management options before taking further action on lead is a move welcomed by the ILA and EUROBAT. It will be conducted by ECHA over the coming year. For this companies may be asked to prepare additional information to ECHA. The conclusions should be available in January 2014. By then it should be known if ECHA is proposing authorisation or any other restrictions.