Lead Matters

As Europe continues to recover from the social and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, an imperative remains to transform the EU’s economy into a low-carbon, high growth global powerhouse.

Value chains that support growth, jobs and wealth creation in Europe, with secure access to raw materials and a commitment to the principles of the circular economy, should be nurtured and supported.

Innovative companies will continue to be encouraged to grow in a business-friendly single market where existing and new generations of employees adopt skills fit for the fourth industrial revolution.

The foundations for a European industrial and commercial renaissance are critical to achieving a prosperous and environmentally neutral future.

Clean energy

Lead’s unique properties support a wide range of low-carbon technologies which are vital to delivering the European Green Deal’s low carbon objectives. From lead providing longevity and reliability to solar panels, as protective sheathing in undersea cables linking wind farms to the grid, through to advanced lead batteries providing energy storage for renewables – lead and lead batteries are an important part of the complex eco-system required to deliver widescale electrification and deep decarbonisation.

Clean mobility

Lead batteries are an essential onboard component in start-stop, mild-hybrid, full-hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs), and they can also be installed in EV charging stations to improve efficiency – a key enabler in the transition to an energy-efficient, decarbonised transport sector.

Societal & economic importance

From aviation to healthcare, the wide range of sectors supported by essential uses of lead are significant contributors to employment creation and economic growth. There are more than 20 essential uses of lead in the aeronautics industries, while lead-based radiation protection is currently the most effective, sustainable and cost-efficient way to safeguard the use of medical imaging today.

Industrial strategy

Lead enables energy-efficient precision engineering of intricate metal articles in high-production markets. From nuts and bolts, locks and keys to engine components, lead reduces friction during high-performance machining of steel, brass, and aluminium alloys.

Circular economy

With its new Circular Economy strategy, the EU’s ability to efficiently recycle metals is becoming increasingly important. Metals are eminently recyclable and the EU’s home-grown metals recycling industry is one of the most advanced and efficient in the world – and lead has a pivotal role within it.

Thanks to a unique combination of properties, and performance characteristics that span energy efficiency, carbon footprint, socio-economics, raw material security, as well as technical function, lead is the only suitable material in the many applications and industries essential to EU society and the economy.

For Europe’s future, Lead Matters. We do not believe that inclusion of lead metal in REACH Annex XIV would be a proportionate and coherent risk management option, considering:

  • The societal benefits and critical role of the remaining uses of lead
  • The complexity of the value chain beyond the use of lead in the battery industry
  • The essential role that lead plays in the EU’s ability to deliver other policy objectives, in particular the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan and its Clean Mobility and Clean Energy packages
  • The comprehensive, existing EU-wide framework of lead-specific legislation designed to manage risk
  • The update of EU binding occupational exposure limits to further protect workers
  • That REACH Authorisation would not result in substitution more quickly than foreseen in existing legislation and sectoral measures
  • The benefits of ongoing use of targeted restrictions, achievable by industry, for uses identified as contributing most to environmental and human exposures
  • The lack of availability of technically feasible, commercially viable alternatives – despite decades of research and investment
  • The recommendations of the Cross-Industry Initiative on using the most targeted and proportionate approach to regulatory management