Accra, 2 July 2020 – The Ghanaian Ministry for the Environment (MESTI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with support from Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) have begun to address the problem of unsound lead battery recycling in a combined effort of auditor qualification, systematic baseline audits and development of improvement plans for all battery recycling facilities in Ghana. To ensure that the initiative’s momentum is maintained, and improvement processes are continued on a permanent basis, the Government of Ghana asked SRI to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for this sector. 

The SOPs shall serve as a clear guidance for policy makers, auditors and plant managers on how to design and operate battery recycling processes and what steps to take to effectively prevent releases of hazardous constitutes into the environment.

To develop the SOPs, SRI has entered a cooperative agreement with the International Lead Association (ILA), the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers (Eurobat), Battery Council International (BCI) and the Association of Battery Recyclers (ABR). The four industry associations recently joined forces to launch a Material Stewardship and Outreach Programme and agreed to support the SRI-efforts with their resources and know-how.

“Closed loop recycling of batteries is an important element for a circular economy as it allows new batteries to be manufactured from material reclaimed from used batteries. This can be a great sustainability story, but it requires the companies undertaking the recycling to implement high environmental, health and safety standards. A guiding principle of our material stewardship programme is to share best practices and provide support to improve health and environmental practices in low and middle-income countries. The initiative in Ghana is a great example of a project that can deliver significant health and environmental benefits to local communities and is one we wholeheartedly support,” said Dr. Steve Binks, ILA Regulatory Affairs Director.

Meanwhile SRI-experts from Mountain Research Institute, the Ghana National Cleaner Production Center and Oeko-Institut formed a working group with industry experts to develop the SOPs. The group will also reach out to practitioners from government and administration, civil society groups and plant managers to see if the material meets the expectations and demands of the various stakeholders.

“When we started to address and regulate the battery recycling sector in Ghana some years ago, we soon found out that we would need to create a reference document that guides regulators, plant managers and auditors on the Dos and Dont’s of battery recycling. We are happy that SRI and the industry associations are now supporting us in this direction,” said Mr. John Pwamang, Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency in Ghana.

While the effort is primarily aimed at supporting Ghana in its efforts to reform and improve the sector, the SOPs may also provide a model to be used in other countries for similar purposes. In that context, SRI plans to invite stakeholders from other countries to constructively guide the working group and SOP development.

It is planned to present the interim status of the SOP development on the WRF in Accra in 2021.