REACH meeting to debate fate of Europe’s lead battery manufacturing industry

A meeting in Brussels next week will discuss whether four chemical compounds irreplaceable in the production of lead batteries should be banned, effectively spelling the end for the technology in the region. The proposal for an in-effect ban is part of Reach, a European Union regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemicals that came into force in 2007. If the chemical compounds are added to the Reach authorization list, an end date for their use will be set. 

After the meeting of the Reach Committee on Thursday October 25, a vote is expected to take place in December or January following a four-week formal consultation period, according to a spokesman for the International Lead Association (ILA), which represents the producers of about three million tonnes of lead. The ILA has warned that if approved, the ban would put thousands of jobs and the future of a critical battery energy storage industry in jeopardy, and has been meeting with European officials to press its case. 

The compounds concerned are only used in the manufacturing stage, and are not included in the final battery, which is fully sealed, limiting consumer exposure to its contents, the ILA said. More than 99% of lead batteries are also recycled in a closed loop, limiting any opportunity for releases of lead to the environment. Lead and lead compounds are already subject to the provisions of Reach and the Lead Reach Consortium has been established to help companies meet their regulatory obligations. 



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