The off-grid solar (OGS) sector in Africa is growing rapidly thanks to falling costs, combined with improvements in the energy efficiency of end-use technologies. A new World Bank Group and GOGLA report published in March 2020 shows that the OGS industry has grown into a $1.75 billion annual market, providing lighting and other energy services to 420 million users in Africa.
As the market grows, there is an increasing concern about the end-of-life management of off-grid energy products, particularly batteries. All battery types contain substances with potentially hazardous effects; Lead-acid batteries have the highest toxicity potential and they commonly find their way to recycling facilities even if the standard treatment in many countries is far from environmentally sound; Lithium-ion batteries have low toxicity but a low recycling value (except for those containing cobalt) and are therefore unattractive for local and global recycling markets. As a result, they are also likely to be disposed of in an uncontrolled manner.
This document aims to help local recyclers and companies handle used batteries in a safe and controlled manner. It serves as a blueprinting for the development of local collection and treatment solutions and covers the following topics:
- Storage of batteries
- Handling and disassembly
- Firefighting procedures and good practices
- Transport of used batteries, which trigger requirements related to packaging, waste classification and labelling, as well as training for staff.
We developed the document with technical input from Marco Ottaviani, in the wider context of a CDC Group project in Kenya. We would like to say thank you to Veronica Di Bella and Nomsa Fulbrook-Bhembe for their support and review.