Ghana publishes standard operating procedures for responsible battery recycling
Improper recycling of lead-acid batteries remians a problem in many low- and middle-income countries, causing pollution, with potentially serious impacts on the environment and human health. In 2016 the United Nation Environment Assembly passed resolutions encouraging governments to take steps to systematically improve recycling operations, including requiring the sustainable recycling industry to develop standard operating rocedures for industry.
They provide policy makers, auditors and plant managers with clear guidance on how to design and implement battery recycling processes in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner. The procedures cover aspects relating to facility location, licensing, industrial hygiene, safety, and all process steps from collection to lead refining and residue management.
The SOPs were developed over 18 months in a project coordinated by Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) – experts from Mountain Research Institute, the Ghana National Cleaner Production Center and Oeko-Institut. Content development was supported by the material stewardship program established by the International Lead Association (ILA), the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers (Eurobat), Battery Council International (BCI) and the Association of Battery Recyclers (ABR). The work was guided by Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Factory Inspectorate Department (FID) and various regional and international experts.
The SOPs have been welcomed by a wide range of stakeholders active in the field, including practitioners, policy makers and auditors.
Dr. Steve Binks, Regulatory Affairs Director of the International Lead Association welcomes Ghana’s efforts to improve the sector. “We are very positive about the developments and hope that the transition to a sound battery recycling industry will continue. Other countries face similar challenges, and we hope that the SOPs will not only be used in Ghana, but also shared with, and applied in other settings.”
Ing Selina Amoah of the Ghanaian EPA said: “The structure and illustration of the SOPs and technical guidelines are very useful as they have been simplified to enable different categories of stakeholders to understand and implement. It will also serve as an additional tool for regulators to promote sound practices in the sector that will lead to reduction in the risks to the environment and public health.’’
Mrs. Lydia Essuah, Director for PPME at the Ministry for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation indicates that the SOPs and Technical Guidelines will be used for licensing of all ULAB recycling industries in Ghana. “We will make low-quality battery recycling a thing of the past in Ghana. Lead-acid battery recycling is a lucrative industry, so we expect all recyclers to meet the Technical Guidelines.”
The SOPs are available for download here.