Monday, March 07, 2022

European Chemicals Agency Targets Critical Battery Raw Material –

European Chemicals Agency Targets Critical Battery Raw Material

As the EU continues to develop its battery strategy as part of delivering a low carbon future, a range of technologies will form part of Europe’s battery eco-system. These must include advanced lead batteries that are very important in meeting Europe’s Green Deal objectives, supporting automotive and energy storage industries with products that are manufactured and recycled by EU companies.

Nearly all lead batteries in the EU are collected at the end of life, and this post-consumer waste becomes the raw material used to make new batteries. In fact, up to 80% of a typical EU manufactured lead battery is composed of recycled materials collected in Europe.

This is a clear success story for the circular economy principle.

A new report by EBP has found that the EU’s lead battery industry – from manufacturers to recyclers, to mining companies and equipment suppliers – supports no less than 184,000 direct and indirect jobs and delivers 36.5 billion euros in “overall economic impact.”

Yet the lead battery value chain, along with other companies and products that rely on lead may face a serious risk from a new regulatory development that is neither proportionate, nor particularly effective in the management of risks to human health and the environment given the existence in the EU of a plethora of regulation that already addresses lead exposures.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has just announced that it plans to include lead metal on its eleventh list of substances recommended for REACH authorisation – a process designed to facilitate substitution of Substances of Very High Concern and ultimately establish a sunset date for any existing uses.

All this just as the EU institutions and Member States are working hard to make Europe a centre of excellence for battery production and adoption of a circular economy.

Industry leaders describe the REACH authorisation proposal – currently subject to public consultation – as a good example of a regulatory action that will deliver little additional benefits in reducing risk but will create a good deal of business uncertainty, reducing investments in Europe and impeding strategic planning, policy goals and decision-making.

They say ECHA’s proposal is significant because lead matters to Europe’s economy and society in ways that are little known or understood by policymakers.

The biggest volume user of lead metal, approximately 90% of the total EU demand, is the lead battery industry. These are batteries that not only start combustion engine vehicles, but provide energy saving functionality in hybrids and critical back-up power for safety systems in electric vehicles. They are batteries that deliver uninterrupted power supply to hospitals and data centres; power forklift trucks and boats; and even provide energy storage for renewables from solar to wind power.

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