Stakeholders call for a specific policy on environmentally sound

27Nov 2021
Felister Peter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Stakeholders call for a specific policy on environmentally sound

​​​​​​​ENVIRONMENTAL stakeholders are calling for the government to come up with a specific policy on Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of Waste Lead acid Batteries (WLABs) synonymously known as Used Lead Acid Batteries (ULAB) to comply with the international-

In progress is a recent dissemination workshop on Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of WLABs in Tanzania and Guidance Manual on ESM of WLABs in Africa.

- conventions which prohibits importation of hazardous wastes and controlling trans-boundary movement of the items.

This is in line with the Bamako and Basel conventions which have been ratified by African nations including Tanzania.

They said although Tanzania has the hazardous waste control and management regulations of 2020, the laws are not specifically addressing the challenges associated with the disposal of ULAB. The regulation recognizes the used lead acid batteries as hazardous but does not provide guidelines on how to handle them to avoid health and environmental impacts.

Dr Daniel Sabai, Senior Lecturer at the Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE) said: “In Tanzania we don’t have a strategy and policy for the management of waste lead batteries. We need as a country to have a specific policy, our recommendations towards its establishment and environmentally sound management of ULAB are based on the guidelines outlined in the Bamako and Basel Conventions,”

Dr Sabai said as the nation, there is a need to use the guidelines as well as stakeholders recommendations because they are professional. He warned that failures to utilize them may result to people and the environment being affected by poor handling of ULAB.

The experts’ recommendations were given during workshop organized by Pure Earth in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) disseminate the Policy and Strategy Recommendations on Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of WLABs in Tanzania and Guidance Manual on ESM of WLABs in Africa.

He said the only additional legislation that would strengthen the ESM of ULAB is the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and that would place the responsibility for the ESM of ULAB on the battery manufacturers or importers of the batteries.

“Impact of poor waste batteries management is more noticeable in receiving bodies like soil, water and air where they are dumped. There is a need for the country to develop an environmentally sound management system which incorporates EPR in the Lead Acid Batteries (LAB) and waste lead acid batteries practices,” said the university don.

Ummy Madimbwala, Health, Safety and Environmental Manager at GAIA Eco Solutions Tanzania Limited which deals with recycling of ULAB was concerned that since the management of hazardous wastes including ULAB is difficult hence the need for specific policy and strategies.

Ummy said: “The government should support the efforts by stakeholders in improving the management of ULAB because they are assisting to ensure a safe environment and protect the health of Tanzanians.”

Jamal Baruti, Environmental Management Officer at National Environment Management Council (NEMC) said: “As the government, we are in support of the stakeholders’ recommendations towards improving the management of ULAB and come up with a policy and laws that will directly address the management of ULAB.”

Baruti added: “When you have a specific policy or law you can go more deeply into dealing with the problem; we currently use the available legislations to manage the hazardous wastes including used lead acid batteries; we also adhere to guidelines by international conventions which have been signed.”

The policy, according to research recommendations would help to protect human health and environment through the environmentally sound management of ULAB, ensure compliance with national, international, environmental, health and safety conventions, legislations, standards, regulations and international guidelines, ensure all stakeholders handle ULAB in a sustainable manner and eliminate the indiscriminate dumping of ULAB electrolyte.

It will also ensure that stakeholders are responsible for the ESM of ULAB through the supply chain, that is, collection, temporary storage, transportation and finally recycling, provide additional support the environmentally sound domestic recyclers in Tanzania by facilitating the import of ULAB in compliance with the Bamako and Basel conventions, ensure an effective formal ULAB collection system, proper sensitization and awareness for the general public and the importance of securing the ESM of ULAB.

Most of the ULAB collected in the country are taken to scrap metal companies such as, Keko Mwanga and Steelcom Limited. Steelcom in turn, sells the ULAB to secondary lead smelters such as Gaia Eco Solutions Tanzania Ltd, OK Plastics Ltd and Gravita Tanzania.

Domestic recycling of ULAB generates and maintains jobs in a country that lost about 140,000 jobs during the COVID 19 pandemic, domestic employment opportunities should not be lost.

All the refined lead recycled in Tanzania is exported mainly to Asia. Exporting lead ingots not only commands a higher price than the export of ULAB, but lead ingots are also not classified as a hazardous waste and so exports are not subjected to the terms of the Basel or Bamako conventions.

In 2020/2021, Tanzania imported automotive batteries from 25 countries with Kenya securing 37 per cent of the market share followed by the Republic of Korea at 21 per cent, China 16 per cent and Thailand 8 per cent.

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