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‘Regulate recycling of used lead-acid batteries’

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 25 February, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news

As over 6,000 informal and illegal used lead-acid batteries (ULAB) are recycled in the country every year, experts have said the government should initiate environmentally sound management (ESM) and regulate the unauthorised recycling to prevent health risk and environmental pollution.

This informal and unsound ULAB recycling contributes to people’s exposure to lead across the country and it is the primary source of lead pollution, according to an assessment report of Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO).

At a capacity-building workshop organised by ESDO in collaboration with UN Environment Programme and International Lead Association in Dhaka both physically and virtually on Wednesday, the experts expressed their concern over the informal recycling of the used lead-acid batteries.

It was disclosed at the workshop that a total of 270 informal and illegal ULAB recycling locations had been identified and assessed by environmental health professionals from Pure Earth and Geology department at Dhaka University.

These assessments revealed high concentrations of lead in surroundings, informal ULAB recycling operations and severe public health risks to nearby residents.

ESDO Chairperson Syed Marghub Murshed said the government needs to work seriously with this ULAB issue and in this regard, ESDO will provide them assistance they need to bring the informal sector under regulation. 

A study on the economic impacts from lead exposure estimates that each year Bangladesh loses US$ 15.9 billion in GDP from reduced lifetime earning potential among the exposed population.

The main objective of this strategy is to bring the informal sector of lead acid batteries under proper recycling process as a study by icddr,b in 2020 revealed that almost half of the industry’s lead supply is sourced from ULABs that are recycled by informal small enterprises.

Besides, there are some gaps in the draft rules. As a result,        

it has become mandatory to impose appropriate legislation for battery handling and transporting and end life management system in Bangladesh.

For this purpose, the government needs a strategic roadmap or plan to follow and establish an environmentally sound management system throughout the country.

The workshop was inaugurated by Syed Marghub Murshed where Brian Wilson, consultant of International Lead Association; Francesca Cenni, programme officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions; Dr Md Mahbubur Rahman, project coordinator of Environmental Intervention Unit at icddr,b; Dr Shahriar Hossain, secretary general; and Siddika Sultana, executive director of ESDO, among others, spoke.