Ethical Dilemma
The American car battery industry boasts that its recycling rate now exceeds 95%, the highest rate for any commodity. However, with changes brought about by specialization and globalization, parts of the recycling system are moving offshore. This is particularly true of automobile batteries, which contain lead. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is contributing to the offshore flow with newly implemented standards that make domestic battery recycling increasingly difficult and expensive. The result is a major increase in used batteries going to Mexico, where environmental standards and control are less demanding than they are in the U. S. One in five batteries is now exported to Mexico. There is seldom difficulty finding buyers because lead is expensive and in worldwide demand. While U. S. recyclers operate in sealed, mechanized plants, with smokestacks equipped with scrubbers and plant surroundings monitored for traces of lead, this is not the case in most Mexican plants. The harm from lead is legendary, with long- run residual effects. Health issues include high blood pressure, kidney damage, and detrimental effects on fetuses during pregnancy, neurological problems, and arrested development in children. Given the two scenarios below, what action do you take?
a) You own an independent auto repair shop and are trying to safely dispose of a few old batteries each week. (Your battery supplier is an auto parts supplier who refuses to take your old batteries.)
b) You are manager of a large retailer responsible for disposal of thousands of used batteries each day.

  • CreatedMarch 20, 2014
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