It is a pivotal time for the global lead and lead battery industries. As the world moves towards a more sustainable, responsible, and environmentally-sound future, so too does our industry.
For the first time, the International Secondary Lead Conference (6ISLC) hosted Dr Desiree Montecillo-Narvaez, the head of the UNEP Global Initiative on Lead Risk Reduction. In her role, Dr Montecillo-Narvaez is responsible for promoting and developing the environmentally sound and sustainable recycling of used lead batteries, with a specific focus on low- and middle-income nations. UNEP’s work in this area is part of wider, global initiatives such as the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals and driving the transition ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet’.
Lead battery recycling is one of the great sustainability and circular economy stories in Europe and North America, which boast a collection and recycling rate of 99%. But work continues in other regions of the world to ensure that the recycling of used lead batteries is carried out under proper health and safety standards and regulation, to protect the people involved and the surrounding environment.
Dr Montecillo-Narvaez presented on the work of the UNEP program which has been carried out for many years through co-operation with a range of partners: NGO Pure Earth, industry association International Lead Association, and global institutes: World Health Organization and the Global Battery Alliance.
In collaboration with the Basel Convention Secretariat (BRS), Dr Montecillo-Narvaez presented on two pilot programs currently being implemented to address practices of used lead batteries recycling in low- and middle-income nations – one in Central and South America, and the other in Bangladesh.
Key facets of the programs include setting up a national system of environmental sound collection, storage, transportation and recycling of used lead batteries. 6ISLC provided a key meeting point for partners involved in these vital UNEP initiatives, with speakers such as Molden’s George Gatlin who spoke about the journey to establish a model used lead batteries recycling operation in Honduras, and Pure Earth’s Indonesian Director who presented on remediation work carried out in the country. ILA’s battery and recycling expert Brian Wilson assists in the implementation of UNEPs programs across the world by sharing best practice for recycling of used lead batteries.
Delegates learned about the latest developments in workplace lead exposure management from ILA’s Regulatory Affairs Director Steve Binks and Brain Wilson. Facilitating the sharing of best practice across the global lead and lead battery industries is one of ILA’s key objectives in creating a truly sustainable lead industry. It forms a key part of ILA’s successful voluntary blood lead reduction programme that has been a driver for the year-on-year reduction in employee lead exposures reported by ILA member companies.So as the world continues to move in an increasingly sustainable direction, so too does our industry continue to play a central role in promoting sustainable practices across the globe.
Another exciting first for the 6ISLC was an Occupational Health workshop, organised by ILA, which was attended by 40 delegates from across Asia representing lead manufacturing and lead battery companies.