Johnson Controls, the US automotive supplier, wants to show China's fast-growing automotive sector a better way to recycle lead-acid batteries.
Last, year, Johnson Controls agreed to sponsor a study designed to encourage China to adopt a better closed-loop recycling system in which manufacturers reclaim the lead, plastic and acid that comprise each battery, thereby standardising the process and helping to cut down on pollution and related health risks.
China is woefully behind the west in lead-acid battery recycling. According to the Journal of Industrial Ecology, nearly 70% of the lead scrap from batteries is not recycled in China and 33% of the lead used to make batteries is lost to the environment as emissions. Needless to say, lead is highly toxic.
As part of the collaboration, Johnson has now brought Chinese officials over for a ten-day tour of Europe and North America during which they will experience best practices in car battery recycling.
The tour is currently visiting four smelter sites located in Germany, Spain, Mexico and North America as well as advanced battery manufacturing and distribution facilities. The delegation consists of seven Johnson Controls executives and an 11-person Chinese study team that includes government officials and members of the China Automotive Technology and Research Centre.
Lead-acid battery recycling programmes have been highly successful in the west with over 97% of all battery lead recycled, according to the Battery Council International. Model laws crafted by BCI and adopted in many parts of the US require retailers to accept used car batteries when consumers purchase new ones.
Several US states require a cash deposit on new battery purchases, which is refunded to the consumer after they return the used battery to the retailer.
With a closed-loop system, the lead and plastic from these used batteries are reclained and used to make new batteries. The lead and plastic can be recycled many times and a typical new battery can contain more than 60% of recycled lead and plastic.
Elsewhere on the automotive supplier front:
TRW Automotive Holdings has signed an agreement with the Shanghai-based National Centre of Supervision and Inspection of Motor Vehicle Products Quality to jointly invest in a new vehicle safety test facility. Safety has not traditionally been a high priority with Chinese car buyers, but new car assessment programmes were launched last year and crash test results are now widely reported.