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Chinese Battery Recyclers Changing Kenyan Economy

| Thursday April 27th, 2006 | 5 Comments

keyna_flag.jpgThis is a rather interesting story, featuring innovation, boom and bust, recycling & reactionst behavior. (See WBCSD) Chinese companies are on the lookout for lead anywhere they can get it. The lead is for car batteries, and apparantly you can recycle old car batteries for their lead content (I didn’t know this!). So, Kenyan car battery scavengers are making a killing by selling old batteries to Chinese buyers instead of on the local market which pays about half as much. This sound’s like a great thing – Kenya exporting something, batteries being recycled, and a very undeveloped economy getting some cash.
However, the local recyclers are up in arms because they can’t pay the Chinese rates and are finding themselves battery-less, and therefore out of jobs. As a result, they are calling for bans on battery exports. So where does all this balance out? How big is the Kenyan car battery supply anyway?
Read on at WBCSD.


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  • Anonymous

    When I was a chem major I interviewed for a summer job at a auto battery recycler in California. It sounded pretty good, until they started describing the weekly blood draw everybody took, to heck lead levels (‘but we’ve never had anyone measure above limits’).
    Call me a chicken, but I took another job.

  • Anonymous

    should be “to check” lead levels

  • ***********

    am one of those person who work in the lead batteries production company based in nairobi industirial area (kenya). The facts about lead is that it is a dangerous metal both to animals and plants. In my place of work workers are never given the full details of the kind of environment the work on. NEMA (NATINAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AOUTHORITIES) the body changed to ensure that lead released in the air is to the required levels is deep snooring or else some underhand deals are taking place between the company management and NEMA staff.
    To the issue of Chinese government working for the same in kenya, am not against but they should ensure adequate education and awareness to the staff members plus a good policy should be formulated that irrespective of your competence in the batteries manufacturing the employment should never go beyond five years.
    Finally i would encourage the chinese goverment to keep on fighting to establish the factory in Nakuru town. But let the know the top management in my company is using any means (both babalic and the right one) to make sure they fight it to close down. The best this for them is to counter attack and disclose the loacations under which the company is operating under otherwise they are doomed

  • Andy

    Lead leaks in Kenya cost. Battery recycle factory has closed. Factory workers died and the village face dangerously big lead levels in drinking water.
    Picture: A worker sorts through used lead acid batteries. Kenya. Photo by Blacksmith Institute.