Lead recycling is reaching 100% efficiency across developed nations, yet within developing countries, a remarkably different set of barriers and conditions are persistently stopping the industries ability to improve and meet ever increasing demand.
Lack of reliable infrastructure and a thriving informal recycling sector restricts a western style centralized recycling model due to an inability to achieve economies of scale; sucking up all the batteries in the country is impossible. The ease in which lead acid batteries can be recycled using rudimentary methods, coupled with the high value of secondary lead, understandably leads to complex black market style, informal recycling. People across the developing world recycle informally using what little resources they can find to make a living – it is a way to survive. Yet from these techniques, lead wastage is inevitable and lead poisoning unavoidable.
As lead acid industry grows and more and more batteries require recycling, the informal sector is becoming ever stronger and its effects more potent. Conversely, shutting it down would lead to unthinkable suffering and messy, dirty, streets that the state is unable to address.
Commonly unknown, lead poisoning is systemic across the developing world. Lead poisoning effects every element of society – it is an inescapable plague.