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Lead Batteries

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    27th Aug, 2019

A study by environmental think tank Toxic Links has found that 90 per cent of lead acid batteries (LABs) reach the informal recycling sector.

Context

A study by environmental think tank Toxic Links has found that 90 per cent of lead acid batteries (LABs) reach the informal recycling sector.

About

  • In the informal recycling sector where the lead acid batteries are recycled crudely and without any regulation, they release toxins into the air, water and soil.
  • The study — “Loaded Batteries: Mapping the toxic waste trail” — released was conducted across Rajasthan, Delhi, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The findings show that the transportation of LABs to the informal recycling sector is in direct contravention of the Batteries Management and Handling Rules (2001).
  • According to the rules either battery manufacturing companies should take the LABs for recycling, or they should be recycled by registered recycling units.
  • According to the Battery Rules which were set up in 2001, the target was that by 2003, 90 per cent of LABs were to be sent back to the manufacturer for recycling. But even after 18 years this has not been achieved which shows a failure of the regulatory authorities.
  • The study points out two broad problems in the disposal of the LABs
    • The first is the lack of regulation by authorities such as the CPCB and the SPCBs.
    • The second is the nature of recycling in the informal sector, in which lead is melted on furnaces and the acid in the batteries is often dumped in nearby drains or fields — polluting water as well as soil.

Issues with lead industries

  • Lead industries are globally considered one of the most hazardous industries and India has, over the years, phased out leaded petrol and lead based paint for this very reason.
  • According to a study conducted by Pure Earth and Green Cross Switzerland, the battery recycling industry puts 1 million people at risk globally.
  • The Indian lead acid battery market was valued at $4.47 billion in 2016 and was expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.36 per cent in terms of value, to reach close to $8 billion by 2022.
  • According to Central Pollution Control Board, based on data received from State Pollution Control Boards, the amount of new batteries sold in 2016-17 was 198,250 tonnes (from 17 states).
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