March 25, 2021: The India Lead Zinc Development Association on March 18 demanded proper procedures were implemented to deal with used lead batteries in a country dogged by informal recycling practices that pose a danger to health and the environment. The calls were made on Global Recycling Day.
Despite a raft of measures covering collections and registrations of battery recycling operators implemented in 2001 under the Battery (Management & Handling) Rules 2001 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, at least 25% of lead came from unregistered recyclers who would not be identified and as such would go unregulated, said L Pugazhenthy (known as Pug), ILZDA executive director.
“About 85% of the total lead consumed in India is used for manufacturing batteries. An estimated 25% of the total lead used comes from unregistered recyclers, who harm the environment immensely due to their unsafe practices,” said Pug.
“Despite lead-acid batteries being the most trusted and safe energy source, informal lead recycling has dented the positive image,” says Pug. “The only way to ensure adoption of the best practices is in strengthening the implementation and strict monitoring of compliance with penal provisions.”
Subsequent amendments to the rules in 2010 insisted that battery dealers should be registered by state pollution control boards, but this is not being done, says Pug.
“Fortunately the large lead-acid battery manufacturers in India have ensured mandatory registration of all their battery dealers with the respective state pollution boards, which is a positive development,” he says.
“But what about registration of non-exclusive lead-acid battery dealers? They are yet to be brought under the ambit of the law. This is the most important and urgent requirement for controlling informal lead recycling.”
ILZDA is also calling for battery dealers to complete periodic returns to show how many new batteries are sold, collected and to whom they are sent for recycling, with data regularly monitored.
The association also calls on small and medium battery units to follow the 2001 rules, and all manufacturers, regardless of size, should be recognized for sticking to them ‘so that others will also emulate them in the short and long run’.
“Both penal actions for offenders and honouring the industry role models should go hand in hand,” says Pug.
Pug calls on the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, the Indian government and Central Pollution Control Board to oversee the implementation of all the rules.
“As an association, we have sensitized the industry participants with the desired knowledge and tools and the effort continues,” he says. “Such trained and green recyclers should become role models for anyone looking for the safe disposal and environment-friendly recycling of lead batteries.”