July 5, 2018: A consortium of battery makers, lead producers and lead recyclers has criticized the European Chemicals Agency’s June 27 decision to put lead on its Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern.
The Lead REACH Consortium, under the ILA and led by Lisa Allen, says the move is a backwards step and inconsistent with the EU Commission’s mobility and decarbonization plans.
“Less than a month after the Commission launched a plan to create a competitive and sustainable battery manufacturing industry in Europe, another part of the organization is moving to ban a key substance in battery manufacturing — one that is already subject to stringent EU legislation governing its use and one that is not accessible to consumers as batteries are sealed units,” said Lisa Allen, head of the consortium.
“By doing this the regulators are effectively short-circuiting the EC’s battery action plan.”
“The ECHA has an obligation to regularly prioritize substances included in the Candidate List,” said a spokesperson with the ECHA. “The potential priority of lead will be for the first time assessed in the context of the ECHA’s 10th Recommendation, which will start in the latter part of 2019.
“The next step will be that ECHA will recommend the prioritized substances to be added to the actual REACH authorization list.
“In the last step of the authorization process, if the EC agrees to amend the legislation and include the substance in the authorization list, then a sunset date will be given to each substance after which continued use in EU will require an authorization.”
The decision echoes authorities in California, who laid out a work plan in December to explore whether they should add lead to their list of ‘Priority Products’, a move that would mean similar implications for companies using the metal.
A decision as to whether lead will be added will be made by the end of 2020.
“We urgently need a more coherent plan to prevent this kind of disjointed policy-making. It is damaging for industry and its damaging for consumers. It also makes attempts to decarbonize the economy and boost electrification that much more difficult,” said Allen.
“Some member states involved in the decision to add lead metal to the candidate list are rightly questioning whether future REACH authorization of lead metal is proportionate when considering the plethora of existing and long-standing EU regulation that already exists to control exposure and use of lead.
“The EC must urgently find a more appropriate mechanism to address any residual exposure concerns because REACH authorization is clearly counterproductive.”