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Lead industry votes against battery proposal

Keywords: Tags  American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM, lead battery recycling standards, lead recycling, RSR, Bob Finn, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Secondary lead industry stakeholders have voted against a proposal to draft new standards for lead battery recycling, a move that drew criticism from RSR Corp.

The vote took place last week at a meeting organized by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which proposed that new standards be drafted. More than 100 people attended the meeting, an ASTM spokesman told AMM, noting that this included representatives from Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc.; Exide Technologies, Milton, Ga.; Gopher Resource LLC, Eagan, Minn.; and Dallas-based RSR.

The motion to organize activity within the ASTM aimed at developing new standards was defeated in a 16-to-63 vote, with three abstentions.

The general feedback was that "the status quo—a combination of regulation and industry practice—worked well for the majority of the industry," the ASTM spokesman said.

However, RSR was "shocked that the U.S. battery companies and some U.S. smelting companies voted to kill the process and to allow the export of scrap batteries to countries that have lower (health, safety and environment) standards than the United States to go on unabated," president and chief executive officer Bob Finn told AMM.

"RSR voted to continue the ASTM process because we believe a level playing field is necessary," he said via e-mail. "The recent Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) report on scrap battery exports to Mexico went into great detail exposing just how unequal the playing field really is when evaluating the environmental standards battery companies follow in the United States compared to what they follow in Mexico. The ASTM standard could have helped level this playing field."

RSR last week said that the CEC report confirmed "serious problems" with the practice of exporting junk auto batteries to Mexico (, Dec. 3).

The ASTM won’t proceed further with the standards proposal, the spokesman said. "Re-engagement would be possible if conditions change such that those opposed felt there was an opportunity for standards development work," he said.

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