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The Citrecycle Approach

Issues of Collection


As well as the problems associated with unreliable infrastructure, large centralised smelting plants are simply unable to collect batteries. Facilities with capacity up to 70,000 tons per year run at just over half capacity, 40,000 tons per year. In India, a Deposit-Refund System is in place and retailers, manufacturers and importers are required to be part of the buy-back system. However, in reality, the intended policy framework fails. Lack of education with regards the dangers of lead and the ability to make money from the used batteries easily, breed a multi layered and insidious informal recycling sector that simple legislation fails to crack. Up to $1.5bn dollars worth of lead is recycled informally or wasted – and the reason why is simple.

Formal recyclers incur costs for recycling every battery in order to adhere to  environmental standards and towards taxes, yet informal recyclers save on such costs, hence they can pay a higher price to procure the used batteries. The informal sector thrives on its ability to sacrifice on health and safety in exchange for higher supply costs. Complex networks survive off this industry. From collection to recycling, every stakeholder involved earns their portion for the role they play in the informal sector yet crucially, the final return is higher than if supplying the used lead acid batteries to a formal recycler. Supply of used batteries is therefore diverted away from formal channels – contamination ensues and lead poisoning systemic. Whilst financial incentive exists, education alone will not be enough to stop informal recycling. That is where Citrecycle plays its part and our mission takes hold.

Used Lead Acid Battery Collection Rates in Indian States

Andhra Pradesh





Tamil Nadu

The Citrecycle Approach

The Citrecycle people-led approach focuses on creating a strong community led nucleus, from which to disseminate education and financial incentive. Tackling collection issues in this way ensures a safe, strong and long term supply. Fundamentally, we seek to replace the hazardous practice, but not displace the people.

The system itself fits seamlessly into the environment, within the people, rather than sitting far away. By doing so, Citrecycle seeks to transcend the divide between large industry on one hand, and local community on the other. We embed our clean and safe systems right in the heart of the communities in which we seek to support. This fundamentally changes the way in which our company, and the lead recycling industry, interacts with its supply. Current informal recyclers utilise our system instead of their rudimentary hazardous processes – legitimate employment and sustainable income. Locally run Citrecycle spokes provide centers of wealth creation, and a locally driven reform of the recycling sector. From a sound nucleus, financial incentive and education then facilitates the sustainable collection of used lead acid batteries.

A thorough education campaign explaining the dangers of informal lead acid battery recycling and the hazards associated with improper disposal will help provide understanding and in turn impetus to collect and recycle properly. Lack of education is systemic and therefore providing the necessary education campaign, modeled on the WHO campaign on Lead Paint and Lead Petrol will provide the first step to securing supply.

In addition, due to the efficiency of the Citrecycle process, financial incentives form a large part of our ability to secure supply. Firstly, an informal recycler can make more profit from using our system than rudimentary process; secondly, current used lead acid battery collectors will be paid more by Citrecycle per battery than can be paid by both formal and informal actors. Both recyclers and collectors can make more money by engaging with Citrecycle and in turn securing long term sustainability of a supply of used lead acid batteries. Ensuring collection to a provision that can recycle greater proportion of each battery is essentail to creating a closed-loop economy.

Citrecycle does not compete with anyone, instead, works with people to make them happier, healthier and wealthier, by focusing on replacing the process but not displacing the people. We do not strip away used lead acid batteries from the informal sector and do not redirect more batteries away from the current formal sector – Citrecycle supplements the formal sector by embracing the informal sector.