The raw deal: how industry is sourcing materials for battery production responsibly

The raw deal: how industry is sourcing materials for battery production responsibly

European companies are at the forefront of efforts to ensure only responsibly sourced materials are included in EU manufacturing supply chains

By Franziska Weber, Industry & Governmental Affairs; CSR Management, Clarios EMEA

As we mark the EU Raw Materials Week, attention will be brought to the responsible sourcing of raw materials. Europe relies on many different raw materials to feed the manufacturing powerbase that fuels the bloc’s economic and industrial growth. Ensuring companies source those materials responsibly and ethically is a priority for many boardrooms across Europe.

One of the foundations of the EU’s industrial success is the lead battery value chain, which is itself an exemplar of the circular economy in action. The average lead battery made in the EU today contains more than 80% recycled materials, and almost all of the lead recovered in the recycling process is used to make new lead batteries. Disruptions to the raw material supply chain due to COVID-19 have shone a spotlight on the EU’s over-dependence on raw materials sourced from outside.

Much of the lead sourced to make advanced batteries for many different applications, from powering cars to providing back-up power for hospitals and other key services, is either produced or recycled in Europe to a very high standard. To truly ensure Europe’s competitiveness in this area, we must be vigilant and ensure our supply chains do not include materials supplied by inappropriate or substandard providers, for example from countries operating poor or dangerous recycling practices.

At Clarios, we ensure that our stewardship principles and practices are integrated into our product design, engineering, supply chain, manufacturing, commercial, logistics, recycling and continuous improvement processes.

Clarios is part of MARS, the Metal Alliance for Responsible Sourcing. MARS has been developed in cooperation with companies in the non-ferrous metal industry. The guideline builds on the OECD guidelines and it incorporates existing international regulations on environmental protection, occupational safety and health as well as human rights.

Furthermore, launched in July, the Clarios Foundation, Pure Earth and UNICEF launched Protecting Every Child’s Potential, a three-year partnership to prevent children’s exposure to lead.

Industry groups representing lead and lead battery manufacturers and recyclers have signed up to seven key principles and launched a taskforce to implement a wide-ranging material stewardship programme. The work, established by International Lead Association, EUROBAT, Battery Council International and the Association of Battery Recyclers, is addressing substandard manufacturing and recycling operations in low or middle income countries.

These are just a couple of examples of the lead industry is doing globally to ensure the responsible sourcing of raw materials that are critical for achieving the EU’s sustainability goals.

Read here for why more needs to be done for lead batteries.

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