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US Lead-Battery Recycling has Moved to Mexico

Tim Johnson - McClatchy Newspapers
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March 29, 2013
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Each year, hundreds of millions of spent lead acid batteries (SLABs) are exported to Mexico by unscrupulous and short-sighted car battery recyclers and brokers who are motivated by higher profits. This video contrasts the lifecycle of a SLAB recycled in the United States, where recyclers use the world's most advanced technology and recycling standards, with the toxic lifecycle of a SLAB recycled in a developing nation, such as Mexico, where substandard battery recycling can cause serious environmental and population harm. (SlabWatchdog)

CIENEGA DE FLORES, Mexico — When an American replaces the battery in a car, likely as not the old battery will be shipped to Mexico rather than trucked to a modern U.S. recycling plant.

U.S. recyclers have some of the world’s top technology for safely breaking apart batteries to smelt the lead for reuse. But U.S. recycling plants are closing down or standing idle. Plants in Mexico are not.

Mexico has won a leg up for a reason: Its lead emissions standards are 10 times less stringent than U.S. standards. Mexican factories can ignore strict U.S. regulations that cap harmful lead emissions onto factory floors and into the air.

The result has been an ever-increasing surge in the trade of used batteries across the border. One watchdog group estimated that in 2011, the dead batteries headed to Mexico would have filled 17,952 tractor-trailers. And the trade keeps growing, the result of a stark regulatory gap that has left Mexico at risk of becoming a “pollution haven,” according to a Montreal-based commission that investigates environmental issues under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the economic accord between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Read the rest at MyrtleBeachOnline.com

  Check out Recyclers of Bucerias


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