Lead in the News

Lead compounds are essential for battery manufacturing and should be exempt from authorisation, says industry

The lead battery industry has urged the European Commission to use its discretion to grant an Article 58(2) exemption from REACH authorisation for use of lead compounds in battery manufacturing. 

Four lead compounds - lead monoxide, lead tetroxide, pentalead tetraoxide sulphate and tetralead trioxide sulphate have been proposed for inclusion on the REACH  7th priority list. The European industry, including EUROBAT, the International Lead Association and supply and value-chain partners has pointed out that all four compounds are essential and irreplaceable in the manufacture of lead-based batteries with no substitutes available.

In its statement the industry also said: "Substitution would also significantly undermine the competitiveness of the European battery industry without delivering any additional benefit in control of risk to human health."

Lead-based batteries are sealed units that operate in Europe in a closed loop with almost 100% collected and recycled at the end of life. Their submission shows that during the manufacturing phase of lead-based batteries, all four compounds are transformed into other substances with only trace amounts (<0.1%) present in the finished battery.  

Furthermore lead-based batteries are also essential for the needs of all current and future generations of vehicles, be it cars, trucks or powered-two wheelers - the current European vehicle park of around 275 million vehicles relies on lead-based battery technology and there are no drop-in alternatives.   

In addtion lead-based batteries are essential in a number of areas as a source of back-up power, contributing to the effective functioning of communications, IT, production & distribution of renewable energy, nuclear safety, oil and gas networks and for the storage of data in uninterruptible power supply as well as other industrial systems. They are also widely used in agricultural, construction and lawn & garden machinery. 

Requesting the granting of an exemption  the industry explained that the use of these lead compounds in battery manufacture meets all the requirements of Article 58(2) exemption from REACH authorisation

Specific Community legislation imposing minimum requirements relating to the protection of human health or the environment that ensures proper control of the risks is already in place. While existing legislation provides binding and enforceable minimum requirements for the control of risks from the industrial use of lead compounds in battery manufacturing.

For instance, pressure for substitution of the workplace use of lead already exists through the hierarchy of controls in the Chemicals Agents Directive and legislation for the use of lead-based batteries through the provisions aimed at substituting heavy metals in both the Battery Directive and the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive. 

In its statement to the Commission the industry stated: "We believe that including a REACH authorisation requirement for the use of lead compounds in the manufacture of lead batteries is not a proportionate regulatory action and would significantly undermine the competitiveness of the European battery industry without delivering any additional benefit in control of risk to human health."


The importance of automotive and industrial lead-based batteries to the European economy

A study, prepared for the ongoing review of the current exemption for lead-based batteries within the End-of-Life-Vehicles Directive’s wider ban on lead in light-duty vehicles, found that there are at present no alternatives, either technically or economically, to lead-based batteries for the SLI (Starting – Lighting –Ignition) function in vehicles. This means lead-based batteries are essential in virtually all conventional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles (1For vehicles the application category AC1 applies). Also today’s hybrid vehicles (Mild, micro, plug-in-HEV, PHEV) and full electric vehicles do have a demand for lead-based batteries for important functional requirements.  Lead-based batteries also serve as SLI batteries in agricultural, lawn & garden tractors.

  • Lead-based batteries are also widely used in industrial motive and standby applications due to their proven safety and excellent performance; for example in forklift trucks and electric wheelchairs, and as back-up power for any type of power plants, hospitals or IT applications. They can be found in distribution and storage systems for renewable energy as well as in railway applications – both to supply energy on board of a train and to back up safety systems. They are also used as the main source of power for electrically driven equipment and are essential component of combustion-engine powered equipment with electric starting. In common with automotive batteries, the use of lead monoxide is essential in industrial lead-based batteries, cannot be substituted in the manufacturing process and is not present in the final article placed on the market.
  • Lead-based batteries play a significant role in achieving EU carbon emission reduction targets, through start-stop functionality in vehicles and regenerative braking in micro hybrid vehicles, and for renewable energy storage and grid stabilisation in on- and off-grid electricity systems.
  • The EU automotive and industrial battery sector directly employs around 30,000 workers with an annual turnover of €6.5 billion - 83% of the sector (€5 billion turnover) is lead-based batteries which employs more than 20,000 workers. The main EU countries for lead-based battery manufacture are Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and UK.
  • The EU battery manufacturing industry collectively spent €740 million on research & development and innovation-related investments (e.g. infrastructure) over the last five years, with an additional€105 million for R&D&I related expenses (e.g. material costs) and manufacturing-related investments (e.g. pilot lines) of € 915 million.
  • Users of lead-based batteries include the automobile industry which employs 12.9 million people representing 5.3% of the EU employed population. The suppliers of the battery industry include the producers of lead that represents a market close to €3 billion.
  • The battery industry (and its ownership) is global in nature. If the lead compounds were included in Annex XIV (and battery manufacturing not exempted under REACH Article 58(2)), only European manufacturers would be impacted. This would undoubtedly result in a change in the competitive position and increase perceived business risk of these manufacturing sites compared to non-EU counterparts as importation of finished batteries into the EU would not be affected by authorisation requirements as articles are not in scope of this title of the REACH Regulation.


Notes to editors

Why lead-based battery use should be exempt from REACH Authorisation 

The European battery industry believes that the use of lead monoxide, lead tetroxide, pentalead tetraoxide sulphate and tetralead trioxide sulphate for production of lead-based batteries should be granted a REACH Article 58 (2) exemption on the following grounds:  

  • The use is restricted to manufacturing of lead-based batteries as all four compounds are transformed into other substances during the manufacturing process such that only trace amounts (<0.1%) are present in the finished battery.
  • Potential exposure to general public to lead and lead compounds during the article use phase is prevented by the fact that lead-based batteries are sealed units.
  • At the end-of-life lead-based batteries operate in a closed loop with close to 100% being collected and recycled with approximately 85% of a new battery being made from recycled material.
  • Existing “lead-specific“ EU workplace legislation already addresses the REACH use categories to be exempted. This existing workplace legislation provides binding and enforceable requirements for the control of risks from industrial use of lead and lead compounds in battery manufacturing. In having a binding occupational exposure and biological limit for lead and lead compounds, supported by additional measures such as mandatory health surveillance of employees, Council Directive 98/24/EC ensures that harmonised EU wide standards operate that constitute minimum requirements relating to the protection of health.
  • Employee health surveillance (in the form of  routine blood lead measurements) demonstrates the effectiveness of the measures already in place under the existing EU workplace legislation in controlling the risk to human health from the use of the substances arising from their intrinsic properties as specified in Annex XI. Moreover legislative requirements are supported by comprehensive sector voluntary blood lead reduction programmes that go beyond what is required by law.
  • Risks of exposure of the general public to lead emissions from battery recycling operations via the environment are also managed through existing lead specific EU legislation that imposes minimum requirements in the form of binding emission limits stipulated in the Industrial Emissions Directive BREF, and binding limits for lead in ambient air, drinking water and food.
  • The General Court Vecco ruling (T-360/13) supports the observation that for an industrial use the Chemicals Agents Directive (98/24) includes a provision that drives substitution through its hierarchy of controls that requires replacement of dangerous substances by less hazardous ones (Article 6).
  • Provisions already exist in both the EU End-of-Life-Vehicles Directive (Art.. 4) and Battery Directives (Art. 5) to encourage substitution of heavy metals (including lead) in batteries where technically feasible.

About the industry partners

EUROBAT is the association for the European manufacturers automotive, industrial and energy storage batteries. EUROBAT has 52 members from across the continent comprising more than 90% of the battery industry in Europe. The members and staff work with all stakeholders, such as battery users, governmental organisations and media, to develop new battery solutions in areas of hybrid and electro-mobility as well as grid flexibility, renewable energy storage and demand response services www.eurobat.org


International Lead Association (ILA) is a membership body that supports companies involved in the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. The ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tons of lead.  ILA’s work has a broad focus, covering all aspects of the industry’s safe production, use and recycling of lead. The organisation manages the Lead REACH Consortium and supports the work of the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium.


Lead in the News

EU scheme to ban use of lead risks short-circuiting Europe’s battery revolution - 27/06/2018

A decision announced by the European Chemicals Agency on 27 June to add lead metal to the EU REACH candidate list of substances … Continue Reading

Industry: Europe's Battery Action Plan should embrace wider range of technologies - 17/05/2018

THE EU’s strategic action plan on batteries needs to consider more than sustainable mobility and embrace other battery technologies if it is to fully recognise … Continue Reading

EU opens consultation on candidate listing of lead metal under REACH - 16/03/2018

A dossier by the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KemI) proposing the identification of lead metal as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) has been published … Continue Reading

US lead battery industry supports 95,000 jobs and is a multi-billion dollar powerhouse - 02/02/2018

THE US lead battery industry has published an economic impact analysis setting out the scale and scope of its benefit to the country’s economy.
The report … Continue Reading

ILA Releases Statement on EU Battery Summit - 11/10/2017

Today, the EU Commission hosted a summit in Brussels involving European industry, Member States and financial institutions to identify and explore opportunities to complete the … Continue Reading

Report confirms lead batteries are sustainability leader - 14/08/2017

New 2017 Impact Report Puts Lead Batteries Among Top Five Performers

What do computers, lead batteries, household paper products, leafy vegetables and diapers have in common? … Continue Reading

Battery manufacturers call on EU to develop a battery strategy for Europe - 02/03/2017

EUROBAT, the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers, has has called for a '2030 Battery Strategy for Europe' and for greater co-ordination between … Continue Reading

Lead batteries are the most recycled US consumer good - see the BCI video - 18/02/2017

What would the world look like without lead batteries? Today, February 18 is National Battery Day, and to increase awareness on lead batteries, Battery Council … Continue Reading

EU must adopt holistic environmental strategy to keep the non-ferrous metal industry competitive globally, says ILA - 04/11/2016

European regulation should support the non-ferrous metal industry to be globally competitive, otherwise more and more production and recycling will occur overseas, said … Continue Reading

Launch of the Lead REACH Consortium website - 12/10/2016

Lead REACH Consortium has launched its new website - www.ila-reach.org

The new website has been developed by the Consortium Secretariat to improve and … Continue Reading

New video shows how low-cost advanced lead batteries can open new markets - 22/09/2016

A new video demonstrating the benefit of lead batteries to society proved a big hit at the recent European Lead Battery Conference (15ELBC) in … Continue Reading

ADEPT CO2 savings confirmed - affordable 48V hybrid car goes on first public ride & drives - 14/09/2016

  • Final testing confirms ADEPT key achievement of 10-12 percent reduction in fuel consumption – equivalent to sub-80g/km of CO2 emissionsContinue Reading

Johnson Controls Expands AGM Lead-Acid Battery Production - 03/07/2016

ALABC member and leading battery producer Johnson Controls International (JCI) recently announced an investment of $445 million to boost production of its absorbent glass mat … Continue Reading

REACH cross-industry group launches website supporting better regulation - 09/05/2016

The Cross-Industry Initiative (CII), an ad-hoc coalition of nearly 60 EU-wide, national organisations and companies, of which the Lead REACH Consortium is a partner, has … Continue Reading

EU automotive and battery industries welcome expert recognition of importance lead batteries - 15/04/2016

Official recognition by the Oeko Institute that there is no mass market alternative to lead-based batteries for most automotive applications has been welcomed by a … Continue Reading

Lead batteries to play a significant role in the future of smart power in the UK - 04/03/2016

The International Lead Association (ILA) has welcomed calls for a smart energy revolution in the UK and highlighted the importance that lead batteries must play … Continue Reading

48V mild-hybrids can meet emission targets with CO2 reductions of 15-20% - 27/01/2016

MAINZ, GERMANY (January 27, 2016) – Current mild-hybrid vehicle projects, in partnership with Ford and Hyundai/Kia, that utilize advanced 48V lead-carbon batteries, can reduce CO2 … Continue Reading

Lead batteries - An excellent example of the Circular Economy in action today - 10/12/2015

The International Lead Association (ILA) has welcomed the European Commission’s new Circular Economy package and has called on the EU to ensure other products match … Continue Reading

New website sets out the sustainability vision for metals in Europe - 17/11/2015

Eurometaux, the European non-ferrous metals association, has published a new website Our Metals Future which sets out the European metals industry’s sustainability vision for … Continue Reading

ALABC invited to participate in USABC start-stop battery tests - 01/07/2015

The U.S. Department of Energy has recently encouraged the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) to participate in the initial start-stop battery testing program of … Continue Reading

Latest government statistics confirm that lead batteries are the most recycled product in USA - 25/06/2015

Lead batteries, used in vehicles and as energy storage for emergency power and renewable energy, have been confirmed as the most recycled product in the … Continue Reading

Lookalike lithium-ion batteries pose serious risks to safety for the lead battery recycling industry - 20/05/2015

The danger of explosions caused by lithium-ion batteries getting into the lead-acid battery smelting process is putting at risk their efficient collection and recycling, according … Continue Reading

Mining makes a large and growing contribution to emerging economies - 26/01/2015

A new report by the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) provides a comprehensive picture of how important mining is to economies across the … Continue Reading

European automotive and automotive battery industries call for extension of the exemption of lead-based batteries from the EU ELV Directive - 18/12/2014

The EU must continue to allow the use of lead-based batteries in vehicles as they are essential for the needs … Continue Reading

ALABC member receives award for clean technology lead battery innovation - 15/12/2014

Michigan-based Advanced Battery Concepts has won an award from the Global Greentech Cluster Association (GCCA) for production of the world's first large-format, bipolar, sealed AGM, … Continue Reading

European non-ferrous metals industry issues call for action to EU policymakers - 04/12/2014

The European non-ferrous metals industry association, Eurometaux, has issued a series of recommendations to EU policymakers on how they can increase competitiveness and improve sustainaiblity.

Eurometaux, which … Continue Reading

Research reveals a promising new solar energy application for lead - 25/09/2014

A potential new use for lead could dramatically lower the cost and raise the efficiency of photovoltaic solar cells.

Using a compound called perovskite, which contains … Continue Reading

Substitution of battery technologies would impact significantly on passenger cars, says new study - 19/05/2014

There would be a significant impact on the overall performance and cost of vehicles, plus an effect on targets for fuel efficiency and reduced CO2Continue Reading

Leaflet sets out clear guidance for installers of lead sheet on how to work safely - 21/04/2014

An informative leaflet for installers of lead sheet, just published by the European Lead Sheet Industry Association (ELSIA), sets out how lead sheet installers can … Continue Reading

Lead carbon batteries the preferred choice for new Kia car - 26/03/2014

South Korean car manufacturer Kia has chosen to use lead-carbon batteries rather than lithium-ion batteries in its future range of cars.

Kia has claimed that the … Continue Reading

Lead sheet industry will be key contributor in EU environmental project - 30/10/2013

The European Lead Sheet Industry Association (ELSIA) is to be part of the technical secretariat that will work with the EU Commission to develop rules … Continue Reading

USA and global lead demand on the rise - 22/10/2013

Following the world’s largest metal industry event, London Metal Exchange Week, industry experts are touting the future of lead and its vital role in modern … Continue Reading

Lead-based batteries to be used in energy-saving hybrid electric truck project - 25/07/2013

Lead-based batteries are making important inroads into the market to supply batteries and energy storage systems for use in heavy-duty hybrid electric trucks.

Advanced Lead-Acid Battery … Continue Reading

Lead plays a fundamental part in the creation of a sustainable society, says new publication - 01/07/2013

A new leaflet illustrating why non-ferrous metals are crucial to achieving a sustainable society prominently features lead.

The multi-metallic leaflet Metals: Fundamental to Creating a … Continue Reading

Announcement by battery makers will strengthen worker protection in Europe and US - 19/06/2013

Lead-acid battery makers in Europe and North America have updated their voluntary blood lead mitigation programmes for employees of all their member companies.

In the announcement … Continue Reading

Scottish isles benefit from lead-acid battery green energy storage - 08/03/2013

Three remote islands off the west coast of Scotland are relying for their power on lead-acid battery technology.

The Hebridean Isles of Eigg and … Continue Reading

Battery technology needs greater research effort, says honoured scientist - 28/01/2013

Electrochemist Dr David Rand, a lifelong researcher into lead-acid battery technology and an invaluable member of the ILA organising team for the European Lead Battery … Continue Reading

ILA member named in Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations list - 24/01/2013

ILA member Teck Resources Limited, has been recognised as one of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations for 2013.

Launched in 2005 by … Continue Reading

Significant growth in lead usage underlines its importance to the global economy - 30/11/2012

Global demand for refined lead metal continues to show impressive growth according to industry forecasts.

Figures from the International Lead Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) confirm that … Continue Reading

Mining has a growing role in economic development and poverty reduction, according to new analysis - 01/11/2012

Two important publications on mining’s contribution to sustainable development have been published by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).

The role of mining in … Continue Reading

LC Super Hybrid car stars at Lead Battery Conference - 02/10/2012

 The latest innovations and advances in lead-acid battery technology impressed delegates at the sell-out 13th European Lead Battery Conference, in Paris, last week.

Among the conference … Continue Reading

Short film reveals the benefits of lead sheet - 11/09/2012

The Lead Sheet Association (LSA), an ILA Associate Member, has produced a short film promoting the benefits of using lead sheet in building projects.

Continue Reading

ILA member wins top award for sustainability report - 30/08/2012

The Doe Run Company has received the Grand Award for Publication Excellence from The Business Communications Report for its “Leading Change” sustainability report. Doe Run’s … Continue Reading

Interest grows in lead-acid battery progress at European show - 03/08/2012

The latest advances in lead-acid battery technology were a highlight of the recent 2012 Advanced Automotive Battery Conference Europe in Mainz, Germany.  
One of the draws … Continue Reading

Lead carbon batteries provide power for US grid - 16/07/2012

A facility, using lead carbon UltraBattery technology, providing three megawatts of power to homes in eastern USA has been launched. ILA member East Penn Manufacturing Co., … Continue Reading

Lux Report boosts market prospects for micro-hybrids - 15/02/2012

The Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium has reported on new research by Lux which predicts that micro-hybrid engine technology will grow nearly eight-fold to 39 … Continue Reading

Global lead use hits new high - 13/02/2012

Global lead use exceeded 10 million tonnes for the first time ever in 2011, according to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG).

The ILZSG, … Continue Reading

New driverless pods at Heathrow Airport run on lead-acid batteries - 08/12/2011

London’s Heathrow Airport has recently unveiled its new driverless, electric pods used to ferry passengers between the Terminal 5 business car park and the main … Continue Reading

Please complete the following details to download the Lead BLM Tool