Blog | March 21, 2019

Promoting and supporting best practice recycling in Nairobi, Kenya

ILA’s Brian Wilson and Polycarp Mukhwana, General Manager of ABM in front of the lead battery recycling plant.

We’re excited to share a post from EEE’s European partner ILA, about knowledge transfer to UNEP and African lead battery businesses.

ILA’s responsible battery recycling expert Brian Wilson is in Kenya, primarily to attend the upcoming United Nations Environment Assembly, where he will make two presentations. He will also be advising companies in the lead battery business on the need to embrace sustainable solutions for lead battery manufacturing and the recycling of used lead-acid batteries (ULAB).

His first stop was to re-visit Recycling East Africa Limited (REAL), a battery recycling plant close to the capital Nairobi, located in the Athi River Township. Brian worked with this company and one of the leading suppliers of solar home systems in Kenya, Mobisol, in 2017. The recycling operation is a division of African Battery Manufacturers (ABM) and Brian wanted to see for himself the progress made over the past two years towards improved environmental performance arising from the recommendations he proposed at that time.

The recommendations were adopted by REAL and ABM and developed into a five-year improvement plan to bring the plant up to the internationally recognised performance norms for emissions and discharges and in compliance with the operating procedures outlined in the Basel Technical Guidelines.

During the visit he noted and was pleased to see a number of significant improvements including the introduction of a new effluent treatment plant, an improved battery breaking area, a new Rotary furnace with a new baghouse, and the introduction of air-conditioned facilities in the onsite kitchen and canteen.

The improvement program is ongoing, and Brian will re-visit the plant in 2021 to see the final stages of the improvement programme completed.

Brian said: “ILA’s outreach program of auditing and supporting improvements to lead battery recycling plants in Africa is vital if we are to bring performance at all plants up to internationally recognised standards. Companies like REAL and ABM are demonstrating that targeted investment brings dividends not only in terms of improved environmental performance, but increased productivity and with it a positive impact on the bottom line.”

During the visit to Kenya, Brian is speaking about responsible lead battery recycling at the 4th Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 4) that will address, amongst other things, life-cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals and waste management. But that is for another blog.

ILA’s Brian Wilson (right) speaking at the UN environment conference in Kenya.

ILA supports an extensive programme of responsible lead battery recycling and management, providing expert advice to companies seeking to achieve internationally recognised standards.

Learn more

Who is Brian Wilson?
How the lead industry encourages responsible care around the world.
International Lead Award given to ILMC’s Brian Wilson

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Venkat Srinivasan from the Argonne Collaborative Center

The lead acid battery ... is legendary. We can recycle 95+ percent of [these] batteries all across the world. It's a very safe chemistry, ... [and] we understand how to use it very, very well.

Dr. Venkat Srinivasan, Director, Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science