For a better protection of human health and the environment: The Lead Recycling Africa Project


In many African countries lead acid car batteries are being recycled without any kind of protective measures. As a result, the workers and local residents are often exposed to high lead levels, which can cause serious health problems and in some cases result in death. At the end of 2014 Oeko-Institut launched a project-based fundraising campaign to raise public awareness about the health and environmental risks involved and how to reduce them, with the aim of improving the situation locally.

Cooperation with African partners

“It is important to us to work closely with our African colleagues in this project. The long-standing experience of local partners and the expertise at Oeko-Institut are going hand in hand,” says Andreas Manhart, leader of the 2014 donation project.

Thanks in part to existing contacts from previous recycling projects, Öko-Institut is working with the following cooperation partners in this research project:

  • In Ethiopia, the project experts are cooperating with the organisation PAN Ethiopia. The Pesticide Action Network works primarily on pollution risks.

  • In Tanzania, we are working with the organisation AGENDA Tanzania. This group was involved some years ago in a local campaign which successfully called for stricter enforcement of environmental requirements for a local recycling plant.

  • In Cameroon, Oeko-Institut is cooperating with the CREPD Research and Education Centre for Development. This group has already gained experience with regard to pollutants and is involved in local investigations into the use of lead in paints.

Environmental protection needs publicity – locally and internationally

The primary goal of the cooperation is to raise awareness about the situation of lead recycling in the countries concerned as well as internationally, and to develop solutions for the environmentally sound recycling of lead-acid batteries and the protection of human health.

The environmental activists in the three above-mentioned African countries are receiving funds from the 2014 donation project in order to conduct necessary research, analysis and communications work. More donations are welcome so that these activities can be continued in the longer term.

The researchers at Öko-Institut are also supporting the environmental groups by making available expert information and handouts in English. In particular, they are providing information about the risks and consequences of improper lead recycling and guidance documents on important precaution measures in lead recycling.

Further information

For more information about the project and its partners, please visit the project website, which includes relevant information and project results.

In addition, the first edition of an English-language newsletter, which will regularly report on the project activities, has been published. Register here for Oeko-Insitut’s newsletter on the donation project.

Contact at Oeko-Institut:


Andreas Manhart
Senior Researcher in the
Sustainable Products & Material Flows Division
Oeko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology), Head office Freiburg
Phone: +49 761 45295-0