Playing to our strengths


Axel Lesch

Director, Environmental and Facility Management EMEA


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Playing to our strengths

Europe’s green recovery should be based on industrial leadership in the production of batteries, electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines, and the raw materials needed for those technologies.

As we emerge from lockdown, employees and companies alike are anxious to see how and when the economic recovery will take hold. Uncertainty prevails, and lockdowns are continuing to be reinstated in cities or regions where a resurgence of COVID-19 is occurring. This level of uncertainty and fragility means supply chains may well be disrupted, again. That’s why achieving ‘strategic autonomy’ for critical materials is so important.

The European Commission’s Economic Recovery Plan proposes increasing the strategic autonomy of raw materials to enable European resilience. Angela Merkel, in her recent parliamentary address in Brussels, stated that the German presidency will look at the competitiveness of Europe, moving towards a low carbon society with strong innovative companies.

The commitment to bring more manufacturing back into Europe needs to remain a priority. We need to re-shore some of the industrial strengths we have lost in the race for globalisation. There is room across our continent for industrial renewal, greater innovation, new technologies, more digitisation with a greater focus on protecting resources, making best use of raw materials and protecting people and the environment. Business leaders and employees alike share these important ambitions.

Perhaps one of the most important sections of the Recovery Plan – among many – is the focus on sustainable growth and ensuring ‘adequate focus of these investments and reforms on the challenges related to the green and digital transitions, to help create jobs and sustainable growth and make the Union more resilient.

My own industry is at the forefront of this transformation on two fronts. Re-engineering our technology through high-tech advances in lead batteries, to meet the demands of electrification and clean energy storage. And ensuring the raw materials we use are appropriately sourced and recycled.

We are proud that almost 100% of all batteries we produce, collected in Europe, are fully recycled at the end of their life. About 80% of a new battery is made up of recycled material. The lead we use, produced here in Europe, is itself infinitely adaptable and recycled. This is a sustainable industry, committed to innovation and achieving all the principles of the circular economy.

In other words, we are part of the solution; one of many value chains embracing change and supporting transformation. And we need support from the European Commission to help ensure our ongoing competitiveness and modernisation.

This has to be a partnership. I hope legislators in the European Parliament and officials at the European Commission will work closely with us – through alliances and forums – to achieve the collective goals which we support in the #EUGreenDeal.

Above all we must focus on joined up policy-making and smart regulation. Together we can make Europe the heart of a worldwide green industrial revolution.

Read more on how Europe’s successful lead battery industry is key to a green recovery.

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