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The discussion of hazardous wastes is not a common one in Belize, and for the most part, warning signs such as “No Smoking” and “Toxic Risk” or a vision of the “skull and bones” sign are generally envisioned when the discussion arises. While this is the perception of hazardous wastes, the reality is far different. There are many useful items that only after being fully used are then classified as hazardous wastes, mostly due to their composition. One such item is Lead Acid Batteries. Used lead-acid batteries are considered a hazardous waste and have the potential to affect human health and the environment if not disposed of properly. Used lead-acid batteries have three major components, two of which are very peculiar and require special attention when handling and disposing. These components are “lead” and “sulphuric acid”, which are held intact by the plastic cover.

In light of the above the Department of the Environment (DOE) has been having discussions with importers and retailers of lead-acid batteries, and with handlers and exporters of used lead-acid batteries, about the development of a Lead-acid Battery Recycling Program in Belize.

Currently, the Department of the Environment is conducting a survey of the retailers of lead-acid battery to better understand the current market and the pace at which batteries are sold in the country. At the same time, the Department is having discussions with various other stakeholders, such as importers, to determine the willingness of the stakeholders to participate in such an initiative.

Importation of lead-acid batteries for the period 2011 – 2014 has exceeded 126,471 batteries; however, there is no account on the current management practices of these batteries. Moreover, the used lead-acid batteries are not being transported to the landfills but instead appear are being sent to neighboring countries. The exportation of these hazardous wastes without proper documentation and proper management practices pose a risk, not only for those who are handling/processing these hazardous wastes, but also to the environment, which ultimately is contaminated by mismanagement thereof.

If you have interest in the design and implementation of this initiative, you can contact the Department of the Environment at telephone 822-2819; 822-2548 or email address: [email protected] or [email protected].

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Dorian Nuñez

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