Researchers and environmentalists demand rules for export of »second life« batteries to Africa

In a joint statement, environmental research institute Öko-Institut (Germany), PAN-Ethiopia (Ethiopia), the Centre for Sustainable Cycles (Ghana), the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action (Kenya) and SRADev (Nigeria) are calling for clear standards for the export of second-life batteries to Africa. While there is »a very high demand for electricity storage« in Africa in the coming years, especially for solar projects, »we do not need low-quality batteries with limited remaining lifetime,« says Tadesse Amera, founder and executive director of Ethiopian NGO PAN-Ethiopia.
There is currently a trend to »donate« used batteries particularly from electric vehicles to other countries, says battery researcher Johannes Betz of the Öko-Institut. Reusing used lithium-ion batteries may well bring environmental benefits, but given the huge demand in industrialized countries, »it is hard to understand why the focus is on shipping old batteries to low- and middle-income countries.«
»The mistakes as made with the export of old computers must not be repeated,« says Sampson Atiemo of the Centre for Sustainable Cycles. The joint statement therefore calls for »minimum battery-standards based on four pillars.« Used batteries »should in no way be inferior to commonly used batteries in the target countries.« Only batteries »that still have at least 80 percent of their original energy storage capacity« should be exported. Second, there should be a »price advantage for the receiving countries«. Third, international procedures for trade in used goods should be followed, such as proof of full functionality before shipment. Fourth, »all actors bringing batteries – new or used – to market in low- and middle-income countries should be obliged to collect corresponding quantities in the same country and bring them to sound management«.

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