Lead industry associations across North America and Europe have signed a memorandum of cooperation to add their weight to efforts to reduce the impact of informal recycling of lead batteries around the world.
The International Lead Association (ILA), Battery Council International, the European battery association EUROBAT and the Association of Battery Recyclers signed the pact as part of a programme of responsible material stewardship.
The agreement formalises on-going industry efforts and collaboration to improve recycling practices in low and middle-income countries, where regulations and industry safety standards are inadequate, non-existent or ineffectively enforced.
While Europe and the US has a rigorously regulated lead industry where more than 99% of used batteries are recycled, the value of lead and other materials from recycled batteries has driven some communities to undertake improper recycling, despite the risks.
Building on this agreement, the associations’ joint project team will develop principles and guidelines designed to:
- Promote responsible sourcing and prevent material entering the market from recyclers who fail to establish controls and processes to protect public health and the environment
- Encourage continuous improvement in the environmental and health and safety performance of member companies
- Encourage the development of producer-responsibility programmes so that there is market-driven collection of the companies’ batteries at end-of-life and recycling under environmentally sound conditions
- Support best-practice sharing and provide support to improve health and environmental standards in low and middle-income countries
- Enhance transparency by reporting progress to interested stakeholders
Last month BEST Battery Briefing reported how the informal battery-recycling sector in India is a major environmental concern.
India is not alone in the problem, with Indonesia, Africa and Mexico among the countries dealing with an informal recycling market. Commentators have called for greater monitoring of the lead battery industry to stamp out the issue.
Earlier this month Budi Susilorini Slamet, the Indonesia country director at Pure Earth/Blacksmith Institute, told the 6th Secondary Lead Conference that ‘lead might have been a causal factor in more than one million deaths’.