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Recycling Used Lead-Acid Batteries in Honduras – A Journey to Establish a Model Operation

Before 2009, most of the used leadacid batteries (ULABs) in Central America were irresponsibly drained of the acid electrolyte and then shipped to Asia, under a variety of descriptions, for recycling. Having identified this unsatisfactory and damaging process, Invema set out to establish an environmentally-sound ULAB recycling plant called Molden in Honduras. Initially, the facility struggled to find the right partner, but eventually aligned with Fundametz. This Ecuadorian company brought 50 years of technical experience in the lead smelting Industry to Honduras, together with a culture of proven health, safety and environmental management. Building on the technical improvements introduced by Fundametz, Molden has since entered into a second phase of improvements to raise the operating standards to world-class with the help of the International Lead Association (ILA) and Miguel Araujo, the Director of the Basel Regional Centre for Central America and Mexico. The presentation will show how the author’s journey has been one of highs and lows. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that where there is a will and a commitment, any ULAB recycling facility can become a model for safe working, good occupational health management and sound environmental operations.

George Gatlin

President, Molden

George Gatlin is the Founder and General Director of Inversiones Materiales — INVEMA’. This company commenced operations in 1994 as an aluminium can recycler with three employees. Today, it employs 445 people and annually collects and processes approximately 120 000 metric tons of a wide variety scrap materials at its San Pedro Sula facility in Honduras.