As the lead industry begins its roll out of a new communications programme extolling the virtues of lead to the American public, it has emerged that Battery Council International executive director Mark Thorsby has written directly to President Trump informing him of how important the lead industry is to North America.
Thorsby’s letter emphasises how responsible the US lead industry’s manufacturing is, and dismissed lead’s polluting reputation as being “installed in an era when lead issues were not well understood”.
While such lobbying exercises are often regarded as ‘going through the motions’, could it be that Mr Thorsby has serendipitously started the process to bring lead industry jobs, including recycling, back to the USA?
As the new President kicked off a war of words with the leadership of its neighbouring state, Mexico, following his infamous tweet of last Thursday, threatening to impose a 20% tax on Mexican exports to the USA if Mexico does not contribute to President’s Trump’s ‘Mexican wall”, the reverse economics might just add up. Mexico is where many of America’s dead batteries end up and so much secondary lead emerges from.
Last Summer JCI announced US$250m expansion of its operations in North America including Mexico and it is not the only player in the bordering state
It is estimated that around 17% (around 22 million used lead-acid batteries) of used US batteries are exported to Mexico for recycling due to more laxed environmental regulations on that country.
And there are many US battery customers who are uncomfortable with the waste export approach as prominent as well as recyclers themselves.
The RSR Corporation for example has long been condemnatory of lead exports to Mexico. In 2013, the then CEO Robert Finn was quoted as saying allowing “the tsunami of lead acid batteries to continue to be exported to Mexican facilities sentences those working in or living near these facilities to a lifetime of increased lead burden in their bodies”.
Mr Trump may prove to be a valuable ally for the lead fraternity. He has already said he will never fly on a jetliner using lithium-ion batteries.
No one was available for comment as we compiled this issue.