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Amnesty International Ethical Batteries press release

Author: Amnesty International, Published on: 25 March 2019

"Amnesty challenges industry leaders to clean up their batteries", 21 March 2019.

Amnesty International is today publicly challenging leaders within the electric vehicle industry to make the world’s first completely ethical battery within five years...lithium-ion batteries, which power electric cars and electronics, are linked to human rights abuses including child labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and environmental risks which could undermine their green potential...“The massive global corporations that dominate the electric vehicle industry have the resources and expertise to create energy solutions that are truly clean and fair...now is the time for a drastic overhaul of our energy sources that prioritizes protection of human rights and the environment.”...

Amnesty International has documented serious human rights violations linked to the extraction of the minerals used in lithium-ion batteries, particularly in the DRC...Amnesty’s research has linked these mines to the supply chains of many of the world’s leading electronics brands and electric vehicle companies...no country legally requires companies to publicly report on their cobalt supply chains. With more than half of the world’s cobalt originating in southern DRC, the chance that the batteries powering electric vehicles are tainted with child labour and other abuses is unacceptably high...In response to Amnesty’s research several leading companies, including Apple, BMW, Daimler, Renault, and the battery manufacturer Samsung SDI, have published data about their supply chains, and the organization is today calling on others to do the same.

Amnesty International has also begun documenting violations of the human rights of Indigenous peoples living near lithium mines in Argentina. Indigenous communities are not being properly consulted about mining projects on their lands and are given insufficient information about the potential impacts of mining on their water sources...

The environmental impact of producing batteries is also a concern. Most of the current manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries is concentrated in China, South Korea and Japan, where electricity generation remains dependent on coal and other polluting sources of power...Meanwhile, rising demand for minerals like cobalt, manganese and lithium has led to a surge in interest in deep-sea mining, which studies predict will have serious and irreversible impacts on biodiversity. 

Amnesty International is also calling on companies to ensure that batteries are disposed of responsibly. There is already significant evidence showing that battery waste from electronics, which contains various hazardous materials, has been irresponsibly disposed of, contaminating soil, water and air...

As a first step, companies should publicly disclose information about how human rights abuses and environmental risks are being prevented, identified and addressed throughout the lithium-ion battery’s lifecycle...

Read the full post here

Related companies: Apple BMW Daimler Renault Samsung SDI (part of Samsung)