In a carefully worded swipe at the European Chemicals Agency (ECA), Eurometaux’s Chris Herron (pictured) has warned of the need for pragmatism with regard to the battery industry— when it comes to creating a low-carbon European future with batteries at the very centre of things.
Herron, public affairs manager for Eurometeaux, which represents the non-ferrous metals industry, told the International Congress for Battery Recycling in Berlin last week, a three-part solution was needed to create a new European battery industry— a circular economy, a battery action plan and a non-toxic environment— a loaded phrase, because Herron recognised that in order to make batteries, hazardous metals are inevitably involved.
Lead, cadmium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and antimony are all considered “hazardous”, but taking a substitution, or worse a ‘ban stance’, would inevitably kill the dream.
Currently, lead compounds and cobalt salts essential for present generation lithium-ion battery manufacture, are in the ECA’s sight for restrictions or potentially, bans.
Herron warned that the circular economy opportunities were already being missed.
In 2017, just 10% of mobile phones from 1.5 billion allegedly disposed of were recycled. That total sum could have yielded 15,000 tonnes of cobalt, which would have been sufficient to provide the content for 1.5 million EV batteries.
Herron recommended a rapid expansion of complex metal waste collection and ensuring that waste went to the right recyclers and to avoid sending material to developing countries.
Getting these factors right was essential if Europe were to have a competitive battery sector— more than 900 establishments and 0.5 million jobs were dependent on it.
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