November 17, 2022: The CEO of lead recycler Gravita India has welcomed the introduction of a series of regulations to ensure lithium ion and other batteries are disposed of responsibly and of which some are subject to waste management rules that currently only apply to lead batteries.
Yogesh Malhotra also welcomed plans to introduce a national online system of tradeable EPR certificates, similar to carbon credits, which he said “created opportunities for recyclers” such as Gravita in terms of buying waste batteries on the domestic market and exporting recycled lead products.
He said as new regulations start to force unregulated recycling out of the market, he expects this will eventually lead to consolidation of only around 20 or so main industry recycling players in India.
However, he said there would still be scope for the reduced number of recyclers to increase overall lead production by two to three times current levels in the years ahead.
Gravita, which has a pan-India presence, could see even higher growth, he said.
Malhotra told a second-quarter earnings call on November 3 the rules, some of which supersede regulations dating back to 2001, are designed to crack down on unregulated battery recycling and ensure all such activities are managed in “a proper, organized manner”, as is the case with lead batteries.
The new rules apply to entities involved in the collection, segregation, transportation, refurbishment, and recycling of waste batteries, in addition to producers and those already covered by existing rules.
“If we can shift away from the disorganized processes we have now, that is going to help companies such as Gravita,” Malhotra said.
He also welcomed incoming ‘extended producer responsibility’ (EPR) requirements — which will make producers responsible for the collection, recycling or refurbishment of waste batteries, and for the use of recovered materials from waste.
EPR requires all waste batteries to be collected and sent for recycling/refurbishment and it prohibits disposal of batteries in landfills or by incineration.
The EPR regulations are being finalized and should enter into force within six months, Malhotra said.
In addition, battery producers will be required to register with the Central Pollution Control Board, submit an EPR plan and file regular returns detailing information on waste batteries collected or received.
Malhotra revealed that Gravita expects to expand its lead production capacity to 425,000 tonnes by 2026, on the back of increased investment in recycling facilities in India and abroad.
The company’s Ghana lead battery recycling plant is currently one of its biggest and producing around 16,000 tonnes per annum, he said.
Gravita as a whole boosted its lead production capacity by around 6% in the first half of financial year 2023 (which began last March) from 159,000 tonnes to 168,000 tonnes, compared to the corresponding period a year ago.
In terms of future prospects for the company, Malhotra said diversification will lead to at least 25% of its business by 2025-26 coming from recycling commodities other than lead — such as aluminium and plastic — and in future, lithium, copper and paper.