Ban Ni-Cads now and protect the planet

Pacific Wireless Communications Pty Ltd
By Martin Cahill, Regional Director, Pacific Wireless Communications
Friday, 11 November, 2005


Many of us dedicate our working lives ensuring the health and safety of society, or we support those who put themselves on the line, day in day out, because we value the security they provide to our communities.

So now, perhaps more than ever, we must seriously address the question of when did we start placing corporate profits above and beyond the safety of our fellow humans?

It is an absolute disgrace that our industry still promotes Ni-Cad technology in spite of the damage it causes our environment. For way too long, some radio and battery manufacturers have failed their users by continuing to sell cadmium-based batteries, in spite of the serious damage they can cause.

Cadmium has been shown to cause cancer and kidney disease. Humans risk exposure to this toxic time bomb when it is manufactured or when dumped, especially when cadmium leaches into our rivers and other essential ecological life support systems.

Sadly, one does not need to look too hard to find examples of terminally infected workers involved in disputation from exposure to this poison.

Usual story: employees get ill, employer denies cause, drawn-out court cases and testimonies from deathbeds...yes and we all know how that sorry, but avoidable, story goes!

While globally there have been moves by numerous government bodies to ban Ni-Cad technology, Australia has been carelessly lax in addressing these established concerns.

Which begs the question: is the radio industry serious about protecting our health and environment, or, is this just a smoke screen for poor corporate behaviour?

Global estimates put the battery-recycling figure as low as 4%. With the growing awareness of this issue, there has been pressure on the industry to change to greener technology - but what has been their response?

Some have developed so-called 'green schemes' which recklessly place a bandage over this serious health concern, while using their recycling scheme to pump even more toxicity into the market.

Indeed 'bottom-dollar' purchasing processes have seen Ni-Cad proponents force otherwise responsible radio users to accept these toxic products, due to vendor greed in exploiting lowest bid tender regulations.

Of course, business is business and we all need to make money. However, banal rhetoric about the alleged higher cost or limited performance of greener technology simply does not hold water anymore. Both lithium ion and nickel metal hydride technologies are now fully mature and extremely cost effective for all users.

Users expect and demand their radio suppliers to be responsible and use their financial influence and marketing efforts to drive changes that will improve the health and safety for future generations.

Isn't providing support to the health and safety of our communities a key deliverable of what we do?

However, if these manufacturers fail to heed the writing on the wall, then the asbestos situation in Australia provides adequate warning, that eventually, users, workers, unions and other affected groups will eventually hold them to account.

The long-term financial costs, on top of the public relations embarrassment, with this outcome simply will cost more to the industry in the long run than any short-term financial gain.

We've believed for a long time now that refusing to buy Ni-Cad radio batteries not only protects the planet but also is just downright smart business practice.

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