Strategic alliance launches pro-lead campaign
A strategic alliance of four lead battery organizations — Batteries Council International, the International Lead Association, The Association of Battery Recyclers and EUROBAT — is shortly to launch a campaign aiming to counter popular misunderstandings about lead versus lithium.
The campaign aims to target decision makers and regulators and so influence legislation with the facts before reactive measures, which cost BCI $1million a year in regulatory defence work, have to be taken, says BCI executive vice-president Mark Thorsby. Orchestration of the campaign comes through the help of Washington, DC-based public relations firm FleishmanHillard
“We will be working throughout January to finalize the campaign and agree on our activities for 2017, and establish a budget. We’ve spent $1 million on this.
“Historically, communication between the four organizations had been territorial; but the shrinking of the lead battery globe means that the issues are no longer only national in scope.
“When things occur in Europe it impacts the US companies as well, and vice versa. This year, we will be working to extend the reach of the alliance to include the Battery Association of Japan and the lead battery industry of China. We believe that it’s crucial to the long-term strategy of the industry.
“And that’s not to say countries like Korea and India aren’t just as important, we just have to take it step by step,” he said.
The strategic alliance between the four was set up in early 2016.
Thorsby says there are far too many misapprehensions of lead and lithium.
“Lithium has this aura surrounding it that people don’t see through,” he says. “We held focus groups in Washington, DC recently and when asked about the recycling capability of lithium, people thought it was 100% recyclable.
“When asked if they would still prefer lithium if told it wasn’t recyclable, they said they would still buy it.”
Thorsby says that if regulators and legislators are given the correct information it could make a real difference to the efficacy and safety of the industry.
“In California, we demonstrated to them that there are certain areas of the plant where there are higher exposures to lead than others. In these areas, if protective equipment is used, a higher lead level could be permissible. It allows government to achieve the results they want and lowers the blood levels for employees.
“We have had a commitment on the part of the companies. Technical systems have been put in place, more air allowed in, and most companies have understood they have a commitment to employees. They have done a wonderful job to make their employees more aware of cleaning the lead off before they go home and hug their kids.”
With market analyst firms such as Technavio predicting steady growth for the lead battery industry for the next five years at least, largely driven by automotive demand in the Asia-Pacific region, the launch of the campaign is timely.