Mexico – IBM, AT&T and Sprint have announced they will no longer export any used lead batteries from the USA to Mexico for recycling owing to pollution and health concerns previously documented by Occupational Knowledge International and Fronteras Comunes.
It is estimated that this move will result in the loss of US$ 10 million worth of trade. The three companies use large numbers of lead batteries in server farms and mobile phone towers for back-up power and sell their used batteries to recyclers. Now they say damning reports of ‘inadequate recycling procedures’ in Mexico have forced them to reconsider their activities.
‘The Mexican government must improve our environmental laws and enforcement because more and more US companies will refuse to have work done here,’ says Marisa Jacott, director of Comunes Fronteras. ‘Regulating extremely hazardous industries is not just good public health policy, but it is also important for economic development.’ She is calling on Mexico’s Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources to immediately issue the regulation to reduce lead emissions from recycling plants as an ’emergency public health measure’.
Perry Gottesfeld, executive director of Occupational Knowledge International, adds: ‘After the US updated the ambient air standard for lead for the first time in 30 years, we witnessed a huge increase in lead battery exports going to Mexico.’ As a result, additional measures are required to ensure the protection of both workers and communities in the vicinity of Mexican recycling sites.