September 9, 2021: Researchers at two Indian institutes are looking into cutting taxes in the regulated lead-acid battery recycling sector as a way to curb toxic informal battery recycling, they announced on September 6.
Research groups at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur are looking at ‘policy instruments’ that could have an impact on the sector: reducing tax on regulated recyclers; offering subsidies to regulated recyclers; and offering subsidies to formal battery remanufacturers.
“Our results show that the first two policies help the business shift from the informal to formal sector, which results in lowering the lead pollution,” the report’s abstract says.
“We observe that providing a subsidy on formal battery recycling can reduce the amount of lead excretion; however, a very high subsidy can lead to the shutting down of both regulated and unregulated recycling sectors.”
“The insufficiency of primary lead sources to satisfy the demand makes the recycling of used batteries necessary,” said R K Amit, a professor in the Department of Management Studies at IIT Madras.
“However, the unscientific way of recycling by the unregulated sector poses serious environmental and health threats due to the high excretion. We studied to quantitively assess the impact of different policy instruments on shifting the recycling business from unorganized to the organized sector in India.
“From the implementation point of view, the policymakers can consider the results of this study to frame policies and rules for LAB recycling activity in India.
“As a natural course of future research, the implication of these policies on the social dimension will be explored, in terms of job loss in the unorganized sector and possible ways through which the unorganized sector’s workforce can be integrated with or relocated to the organized sector.”
In March, the India Lead Zinc Development Association demanded proper procedures were put in place to deal with ULABs in India, where at least 25% of lead comes from unregistered recyclers.
ILZDA executive director L. Pugazhenthy (Pug) said the phenomenon was harming the environment and ‘denting the positive image of lead-acid batteries’.
The Leaded Batteries: Mapping the Toxic Waste Trail study in 2019 by Toxics Link, an Indian environmental research and advocacy organization, puts the figure far higher, saying 90% of ULABs reach the informal sector from ‘kabadiwallas’ (dealers) and workshops.
“The only way to ensure adoption of the best practices is in strengthening the implementation and strict monitoring of compliance with penal provisions,” said Pug.