Regulatory Affairs Director, International Lead Association, United Kingdom
Batteries are emerging as a critical ingredient in the transition to a more sustainable future because of their role in electrifying transportation and balancing power grids. However, all battery chemistries have environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues that need to be addressed to allow them to fulfil their potential. If issues such as employee welfare, health & safety, responsible sourcing of raw materials, greenhouse gas emissions, creation of hazardous waste and pollution are not tackled then the financial and sustainability benefits that will accompany the increased demand for battery energy storage will be at risk. This is now being recognised by many battery producers that have recently started to undertake materiality assessments and now report progress in achieving ESG indicators. Legislation such as the new EU Battery Regulation and the Corporate Reporting Sustainability Directive are also setting standards. Lead batteries have many positive sustainability attributes including high collection and recycling rates that mitigate many of the geopolitical issues in sourcing virgin raw materials that blight other chemistries. However, these are often overshadowed by the environmental pollution and worker safety issues that result from sub-standard recycling practices. Lead Battery 360 offers a framework for an external assessment of a sites ESG performance and may be one tool that the lead battery value chain could use to build trust and enhance reputation.