Chinese Battery Recyclers Changing Kenyan Economy

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.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

5 responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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

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