ILA and EUROBAT send clear message to the European Commission on REACH authorisation proposal

ECHA has added lead metal to its list of substances recommended for REACH Authorisation. This means a step backwards in the transition to clean energy, impacting a wide range of energy and infrastructure sectors, including but not limited to wind power, electric vehicles, solar power, recovery and recycling as well as critical materials producers, such as steel, among others.

ILA has written an open statement to the European Commission requesting it to reject a recommendation from ECHA – the EU chemicals regulator – to include lead on its REACH list of substances requiring authorisation.  EUROBATalso has published its own statement highlighting the importance of the lead battery sector.

Considering that many products and applications that rely on lead underpin the EU’s policy objectives for the energy transition and sustainable future, the European Commission should reject including lead metal in the REACH Authorisation List, as it would send a negative signal to investors and businesses, which would ultimately drive the lead battery manufacturing industry out of Europe.

This is contradictory considering the global demand for batteries is increasing to meet decarbonisation and sustainability targets.  The EU-based lead battery value chain is proven, economically sustaining and operates in a closed loop, with 99% of lead batteries collected at end of life for recycling, embracing circular economy principles. Accordingly, the average lead battery made in the EU today contains more than 80% recycled materials and more than 80% of the lead in European lead batteries is produced from recycled sources.

Lead itself is sourced predominantly from the recycling of EU waste products, meaning that it is one of the few strategically autonomous raw materials that Europe possesses, reducing the need to source it from other regions, virtually eliminating any supply chain risks.

REACH Authorisation for lead batteries will simply add unnecessary bureaucratic burden, potentially discourage future investment and is not the best option to improve risk management, stimulate faster substitution, or reduce exposure.  It effectively reduces the productivity and competitiveness of a successful EU battery value chain, potentially opening the door to non-EU competitors who will continue to manufacture products to meet the demand for these important products.

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