Lead and Water Don’t Mix
The Department of the Environment along with a couple of retailers are attempting to revitalize a Lead Acid Batteries Recycling Program in Belize. Now
many of you may wonder why there needs to be a program for car batteries. Well, according to the main coordinators of the program, the mismanagement or
mishandling of used lead acid batteries can have serious environmental and health risks. We spoke with the director of one of the main retailers
involved in this initiative and she told us what role her business plays in ensuring that it is successful.
Martha Pohl - Director, RENCO
"The department I know has been working really hard in organising this. Due, I guess to the current price of lead, it is not feasible for us to do what
we're doing which is basically - purchasing old batteries or encouraging people to leave their old batteries when they purchase a new battery. And the
we package it off and ship it to the US to a supplier for recycling. We have been working on our own - this is something we had and when environment
came then they figured out that our programme is exactly what they were trying to enforce. Or trying to get more people on board and they've had
seminars, they've had people that sell batteries to discuss ways of recycling. Most of these people when they take it back home, what are they going to
do? Put it on the side of the garage or put it in their yard and then that sand piles up or they make think that they will use it because it has a
little bit of life - and they may put it in another vehicle. But once your vehicle is running, you don’t think about things like that."
The department along with Renco Battery launched this program in 2004 and it functioned for only about 2 years. Now they are trying to resurrect the
program and collaborate with other retailers and the public. The main aim of the program is to ensure the safe handling, management and disposal of
used lead acid batteries and also to ensure that the regulations regarding the cross border movement or sale of these batteries are being followed in
Belize. According to the Department of the Environment, the two components that make this product hazardous is the lead and sulfuric acid. The
department’s environmental officer told us via email that “it is important to understand that used lead acid batteries require special handling and
that the department along with other stakeholders are working together to establish a programme that will assist in the proper management of the
batteries.” In a release sent out by the department, it states that Belize imported over 126,471 lead acid batteries between 2011 – and 2014.