6 December 2018: An advisory campaign to ‘reposition’ lead within the European Union will be launched by the International Lead Association and EUROBAT next year, lead REACH consortium manager Lisa Allen told BESB on December 6.
It will reinforce the importance of lead batteries in helping the EU meet the decarbonization and electrification aims set out in its recently published climate change strategy, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
At the consortium’s bi-annual meeting this week, members agreed on wide-ranging campaign activity to approach MEPs, member states and EU stakeholders to convince them of the value of the lead battery and its societal and economic benefits.
“We will explore how efforts to restrict its use would be damaging to society and the economy,” said Allen. “We will emphasize the lead battery value chain, that it is a reliable technology for the future and also innovative in storage solutions for future applications.
“It’s a very dynamic and innovative technology.”
The plans are in response to moves by the European Commission’s Reach 133 Committee, a regulatory body that concerns itself with the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals, including those it considers pose a risk to human health or the environment.
In a secret meeting in Brussels on October 25, the committee discussed whether four lead compounds (lead monoxide, lead tetraoxide, tetralead trioxide sulfate and pentalead tetraoxide sulfate) should be included in a regulation to amend REACH Annex XIV, ie, would require special authorization before being used in the EU to manufacture products.
The compounds are indispensible in the manufacture of lead batteries, but do not appear in the final battery — which is, in any case, completely sealed.
Discussions on a preliminary draft regulation to add substances to REACH Annex XIV are expected to take place at the next meeting of the 133 committee in mid-December, but a vote is not likely to happen this year.
The ILA’s advocacy campaign also includes a task force that will promote the use of lead in non-battery applications, such as electric cable manufacturing, lead sheet and machinery, which make up between 5% and 10% of industrial uses for lead.
Gert Meylemans, EUROBAT’s senior communications manager, said the organization was aiming to target the new European Parliament when the new commissioners take their places in May next year.
“It will be very important to focus on reaching out to the new policy makers,” he told BESB. “There is going to be a lot of face-to-face advocacy. The industry members we represent count on us to do our utmost to ensure the future regulatory framework goes their way as much as possible.
“Batteries are a hot topic both in Brussels and at member state level and we are going to need all the possible technologies out there or we aren’t going to cope with the demand.”