16th International Lead Conference



Corinthia Aquincum Hotel



20-22 June 2007




The International Lead Management Center






Brian Wilson



The Formation of the ILMC


In 1996 the Environment Ministers of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued a Declaration on Lead Risk Reduction seeking to voluntarily develop and strengthen national and cooperative efforts considered necessary to reduce risks from exposure to lead.


In the build up to the OECD Declaration the International Lead Industry, through the Offices of the Lead Development Association International (LDAI) and the International Lead Zinc Research Organization (ILZRO), lobbied strongly for a voluntary approach to Lead Risk Management on the basis that restricting lead product production throughout the OECD, as originally proposed under a draft Council Act, would not necessarily restrict the availability of those products amongst member countries under prevailing World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. Indeed, the likely consequence was that it might even export any environmental threats and occupational exposure to the developing world if production moved to countries outside the OECD.


What is the ILMC?


The acceptance of these arguments by the OECD Ministers lead to an innovative approach to the management of lead risk and the creation of the International Lead Management Center, the ILMC, in the summer of 1996.


It was also agreed with the Ministers that the objectives of the voluntary lead risk reduction program would be best demonstrated by:


·         introducing specifically designed Risk Management Pilot Programs.

·         sharing risk management procedures through an information data base.

·         an outreach program enabling the ILMC to work with International Agencies


·         opening an inquiry desk to facilitate the free transfer of risk reduction strategies.




Founders of the ILMC


The Founder Members and Sponsors of the ILMC spanned the Globe and represented eleven of the World’s largest Primary and Secondary Lead Producers.  Today the Center is funded and managed collectively via the LDAI.


Pilot Programs – Country Projects


In 1997 the ILMC embarked on a series of Pilot Programs dealing with a variety of Lead risk management issues:


Philippines: In the Philippines the ILMC worked with the major secondary lead recycler to explore and implement environmental and occupational health improvement strategies to facilitate ISO 14001 Certification.

Russian Federation: There were three projects in the Russian Federation. In St. Petersburg the focus was on setting up an atmospheric monitoring system and establishing a correlation with occupational exposure. In the Rudnya Valley, the main issues to be resolved were soil contamination and population exposure around the town’s lead smelter. At the Kursk secondary lead smelter and battery manufacturing plant the Company wanted to introduce medical surveillance for its employees and training programs were set up to teach the laboratory technicians lead in blood analysis.

Mexico: In Mexico the ILMC were asked to assist with the preparation of a Reference Manual in Spanish to assist small and medium sized businesses in the Mexican Lead Industry to conform to the prevailing national environmental and occupational health legislation.

Peru: Specialist advice on materials handling and storage were required of the ILMC to resolve a childhood lead exposure issue at the Port of Callao in Peru.

Zambia: In Zambia the ILMC were asked to examine the remediation options to deal with the legacy of population exposure and contaminated land following the sudden closure of the lead mines at Kabwe.


Pilot Programs – Information Exchange Projects


In addition to the Country based Pilot Programs, the ILMC was also engaged in two Information Projects for worldwide distribution.


Ceramic Foodware:


An Information Handbook detailing best practice for the safe production, use and disposal of Lead Glazed Ceramicware was made available in hard copy and electronically on the ILMC web site.


The introduction of unleaded gasoline:


Clearing house reference materials and case studies detailing the experience of individual countries in the phase out of leaded gasoline were compiled, collated and uploaded into the public domain via the ILMC web site.


Environmentally Sound Management:


When it comes to explaining “Environmentally Sound Operating Procedures”, a site visit is always better than a thousand words. In this respect, supporters of the ILMC have been demonstrating “Best Practice” with site visits, work place secondments and “on the job” training for Managers and Technicians from Pilot Program partners.


Pilot Programs – Project Partners


From the outset of the formation of the ILMC is was clear that the Lead Industry alone could not resource or fund a comprehensive series of Lead Risk Reduction Pilot Programs on the scale required under the terms of the OECD Ministerial Declaration.


Funding and Resource partnerships have therefore been a key element in the delivery of Pilot Programs.


In the Philippines, the ILMC worked with the Geneva based United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and with the Environmental Management Bureau in Manila.


In the Russian Federation, the Lead Industry is represented by Electrozariad, and they were a key partner together with the Regional Offices of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.


However, certain legacy issues such as those in the Rudnya Valley and Kabwe required the assistance of the Blacksmith Institute to mobilise local community groups and leverage remediation funds from International Agencies.


In Mexico the ILMC worked through the Mexican Chamber of Mines, CAMIMEX (Cámara Minera de México) and with the Government’s Health Ministry, the INE (Instituto Nacional de Ecología), to initiate, resource and implement the Pilot Program.


Funding in Peru came through the US AID Program and implementation of the Project was undertaken in cooperation with the Government Ministry for Health and the Environment, DIGESA (Dirección General de Salud Ambiental).


The Ceramic Handbook was part funded by the International Crystal Federation and prepared in Cooperation with Rutgers University.


The Clearing House Database for the introduction of unleaded Gasoline was undertaken in partnership with the Paris Bureau of the United Nations Environment Program, UNEP.


Key Success Factors


Those who have been working with ILMC on the various lead risk reduction Pilot Programs have identified a number of key factors that are common to successful project implementation.


It is essential to ensure that all the stakeholders are fully committed to the risk reduction program.


It is hard to work alone in the International arena, so identify and engage with potential partners that can assist with project resourcing and funds.


Objectives are realistic and agreed by all the stakeholders with action focused firmly on achieving the aims of the program


Ensure that all communications are honest, open, frank and frequent, even though on occasions certain statement may be uncomfortable. .

Individual and collective responsibilities for each aspect of the program are clearly defined and ownership of the Project is with the local plant managers.


Environmental goals are based on sound environmental management and sustainable development principles so that achievements made during the risk reduction program will be maintained long after any project has finished.


Lessons Learned


There were also some surprising lessons learned about implementing Lead risk Reduction Programs.


Firstly, achieving significant reductions in lead exposure does not have to be an expensive exercise.


Indeed, communicating how to achieve sound environmental management methodologies and best working practices will result in significant improvements to environmental performance and a reduction in occupational exposure.


However, infrastructure is important, especially when introducing biological surveillance and environmental monitoring for the first time.


Although certain problems are country specific, many lead exposure issues are similar and so exchanging information about successful case studies is a valuable way to extend a risk reduction program.


Restricting the battery recycling activities of the “informal sector” will dramatically reduce the adverse environmental impact created by their poor recovery practices.


In cases where it is uneconomic for a country to recycle batteries, then regional solutions should be considered as a viable and sustainable option.



In 2003 the OECD accepted that the Lead Industry had met its obligations and fulfilled the commitments made as a result of the Ministerial Declaration. However, the Industry did not want to find itself under threat again by the International Community and decided to extend the risk reduction activities of the ILMC beyond the Country Based Pilot Programs and use the experiences gained on regional and global projects.


Mission Continues


To an extent, Global Outreach activities had already begun in 2000 when the ILMC were invited by the Basel Convention Secretariat to provide expertise in the preparation of Technical Guidelines for the Environmentally Sound Recovery of Used Lead Acid Batteries.


The country selected to lead the project was Brazil and the ILMC worked with the Brazilian Department of the Environment and Natural Resources to produce a comprehensive set of Guidelines.


The Guidelines were approved by the Basel Technical Working Group in May 2002 and adopted unanimously by the Conference of the Parties in 2002.


Subsequently, the Guidelines were published in the six UN languages in 2003 and to this day remain the best guidance document for the sound recycling of used lead acid batteries.


Mission Continues – SBC ULAB Project


Once the Basel Technical Guidelines were adopted by the Parties to the Convention, the Basel Secretariat invited the ILMC to provide technical support for a sponsored Regional Project for the Environmentally Sound Management of Used Lead Acid Batteries in four countries in Central America, Colombia, Venezuela and three of the Caribbean Island States.


This invitation to be involved in a Regional Battery Recycling Project was a timely extension of the Center’s risk reduction activities.


Furthermore, it afforded the opportunity for the ILMC to work with the Departments of the Environment and Natural Resources from nine countries and two of the Basel Convention Resource Centers in Trinidad and El Salvador.


The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development also decided to assist the Basel Secretariat and share some of their experiences gained in the Philippines when they were also in partnership with the ILMC.


SBC ULAB Project - Participating Countries


The nine Countries participating in the Regional Used Lead Acid Battery (ULAB) Project were:

México, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia and the Dominican Republic.


Project activities were coordinated by the Basel Convention Regional Centers in San Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago. 


SBC ULAB Project - Recycling Plant Visits


However, a regional recycling strategy requires the Transboundary Movements of used lead acid batteries from those countries without recycling capacity to those countries with recycling plants. As the Transboundary regulations require confirmation that any used lead acid batteries are recovered in an environmentally sound manner, the ILMC were asked by the Basel Secretariat to inspect a number of the battery collection centers and recycling plants to confirm environmental credibility. Accordingly, visits were made to plants and operations in Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela to assess compliance with the Basel Technical Guidelines.







SBC ULAB Project – Outcomes


The outcomes from this project were:


A Model seven step process to achieve Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of Used Lead Acid Batteries (ULAB).


A strategy to restrict the illicit activities of the “informal sector”, whilst providing them opportunities to work in the “formal sector” collecting ULAB for shipment to a licensed smelter.


A comprehensive Training Manual that covers all the requirements of the Technical Guidelines and the Model seven step approach to achieving environmentally sound management of used lead acid batteries at a National Level.


A Regional Strategy agreed by all nine Countries in the Pilot Project for the  Environmentally Sound Recovery of Used Lead Acid Batteries in accordance with the Basel Technical Guidelines.


SBC ULAB Project – Training Manual


I will just take a moment to give you an insight into the eight chapters of the Training Manual, beginning with Chapter 1 that explains precisely how to conduct an accurate national inventory of used lead acid batteries.


Chapter two provides a range of illustrations, graphics and interactive examples of best practice for Used Lead Acid Battery collection, storage, transport and shipping.


Chapters 3 & 4 deal with the different strategies required to control the environmental performance of the formal sector and restrict the undesirable activities of the “informals”.


Communication, information and education issues, including public awareness and community engagement are covered in Chapter 5.


Of concern to nearly all the regional governments in the pilot project was Site Remediation and cost effective options are outlined in Chapter 6.


Chapter 7 covers the essential elements of occupational health and safety at every stage of the Used Lead Acid Battery recovery process.


And finally, Chapter 8 provides a step by step explanation of the Basel Convention’s requirements and obligations concerning the control of Transboundary Movements of used lead acid batteries.


SBC ULAB Training Manual – Cambodian Project


Whilst most of the contributions made by the ILMC to the chapters in the Training Manual were based on knowledge gained in the initial Pilot Programs, certain elements were prepared during the later stages of the Central American and Caribbean Project as a consequence of the experiences gained during the field work related to the Technical Guidelines.


So, the final draft of the Training Manual was, in certain respects, untested as a resource. It needed to be tested in the field prior to submission to the Parties and to remedy this shortcoming, the SBC asked the ILMC to use the Manual to train staff at the Cambodian Ministry of the Environment in order to prepare a national inventory of used lead acid batteries and formulate a strategy for the environmentally sound management of the recovery process.


Four population centers, typical of the different economies found in Cambodia were used for the surveys. The Capital Phnom Penh with its financial center, the fishing port of Sihanoukville, the farming community around Battambang and the border trading town of Svag Rieng.


SBC ULAB Training Manual – Cambodian Project


At each of the locations consideration was given to the number of batteries sold; battery use and life whether that was automotive, telecommunications or the growing field of solar power; and finally the methods of recovery.

To everyone’s satisfaction and especially the Cambodian Ministry of the Environment, the Training Manual proved to be a valuable resource and the Government produced a used lead acid battery inventory and a National Strategy for environmentally sound recovery.


SBC ULAB Project – Phase III


The success of the Cambodian Project and the adoption of the agreed Strategy for the Environmentally Sound Recovery of used lead acid batteries in Central America and the Caribbean by the Conference of the parties in Nairobi in November 2006, means that the next stage of the Project involving all the countries in the Region will now proceed. ILMC will continue to provide full technical support.


Lead Life Cycle – Sigma Loop


Over the last decade ILMC projects have moved from risk specific, to embrace the management of risk throughout a product’s life cycle, and we are not alone in this field. Indeed, a great deal of research and analysis has been undertaken by the Lead Development Association International and the International Lead Zinc Research Organization.


And of course, Project Life Cycle Management for a lead acid battery is Product Stewardship, and this is often illustrated by the Mobius Loop.


However, Mining Operations, a vital component of the Lead Life Cycle, do not fit into the Mobius Loop, but do provide a natural input into the Sigma Life Cycle Loop. Lead ore enters the Life Cycle Loop when it leaves the mine for the smelter; and in the case of lead acid batteries passes onto the battery manufacturer, then the consumer and after use, to the recycler, where the used batteries are sent in bulk to the smelter and the cycle is repeated.


Ideas connecting Product Stewardship through interactions throughout the Product Chain in a Sigma Loop were initially suggested by the Green Lead Initiative.





Green Lead Project


The Green Lead approach to Product Stewardship is to establish a chain of Environmental Providence throughout the Life Cycle and when the ILMC was invited to provide technical input into the Green Lead Project, it seemed to be a good opportunity to further the risk reduction programs.


Certainly, a Scheme to develop a Tool for the Assessment of Environmental Performance would integrate very well with the used lead acid battery project in Central America and the Caribbean, where the ILMC were already working on a similar scheme.


Furthermore, the Green Lead Initiative was consistent with:


·         Life Cycle Analysis

·         Sustainable Development


·         The outreach policy of the ILMC; that is, offering more opportunities to work with other organizations interested in Lead Risk Reduction.


But the main attraction of the Green Lead Initiative to the ILMC and its partners in the Developing World was that the introduction of a Green Lead Chain of Custody offered a real opportunity to severely restrict, and even eliminate the illicit and polluting activities of the “informal” sector.


In every ILMC study of used lead acid battery recovery, the vast majority of lead exposure problems were caused by the poor recycling methods used by the “informal” sector. If, for example, a chain of custody could be established for lead acid batteries, then used batteries would ONLY be sent to certified collection centers and licensed recycling plants. At a stoke, the Informal Sector could be eliminated and then with unbroken environmental integrity, Product Stewardship gives way to a sustainable mechanism for the lead life cycle.




ILMC Mission Continues…


So where will the focus of future ILMC activities be?


Well we will certainly be sharing more of our lead risk reduction experiences with the Global Community through our “Tool Box Series”, and that might also involve tailored training packages.


We will be seeking opportunities to extend Product Stewardship through Life Cycle Management especially in certain countries in the Developing World where the “informal” sector continue to have an adverse impact on the environment and human health.


Priority will, however, be given to Projects that enable the ILMC to develop Product Sustainability, that is, establishing a sound continuity of not only environmental and health matters, but also the economic, social, institutional and resource issues.



May 30, 2007