Be cautious while purchasing a dry battery for your uninterrupted power supply (UPS) or solar power system, as an expired, outdated junk of dry batteries has flooded the market in pretext of imported batteries. The manufacturing date on these imported batteries is not mentioned. Therefore, while purchasing, it is utmost necessary for the buyer to check the manufacturing date.
The increasing use of UPS and solar power systems in Pakistan has raised the demand for dry batteries which have flooded the markets. Largely, the dry batteries available in markets do not have their manufacturing date inscribed on them.
Investigations reveal that some importers are deceiving consumers and local distributors by importing expired/used dry batteries from the markets of Singapore and Malaysia. In these markets, huge stocks of expired batteries are sold for recycling but due to an ever increasing demand for dry/solar batteries in Pakistan, some importers have started minting money by importing used batteries thereby, selling them in local markets in the pretext of imported batteries. A 100 ampere dry battery is sold in the market at approximately 20,000-25,000 rupees, whereas, the import of a used battery costs an importer approximately PKR 2000 to 3000 only.
Such imports also include some world famous brands like Narada, Acme-G and NorthStar. People prefer them because of their brand name and quality but, they only get disappointed at the short-lived performance of these batteries. This situation not only damages the brand name of these worldwide companies but it also discourages the use/spread of solar energy in Pakistan.
Consumers can identify the difference between a used and a new battery. Every battery has a 16-digit barcode which also mentions the manufacturing date of the battery. Before purchasing such a battery, it is advised that a buyer must inquire from the seller about the manufacturing date. The safest way to make a purchase is to purchase from the authorized distributors, sales agents and resellers.
These dry batteries have a high demand in the telecom industry, as they are installed with other equipment in telecom towers. The batteries installed at telecom towers reach an end of life at about 12 months, 18 months & 24 months etc. depending on their usage. Some local companies also buy these unscratched batteries from telecom companies and resell them in open market. Unfortunately, telecom companies do not exercise any scientific method to dispose of these batteries nor they sell it back to the genuine manufacturing plants for recycling. Some Karachi based businessmen import these used batteries and resell them in the open markets.
Mr. Muhammad Yamin, Managing Director Magcom (pvt) Limited, who is also the official agent/distributor of Narada in Pakistan, has endorsed this issue while expressing his concern over the damages Narada Batteries is enduring due to this fraudulent business. He said, “The Company (Narada) has a system to buy back the used/expired batteries or replace them but, it is the end user’s prerogative- the facility is there however. We cannot control batteries reselling in the market – it is the user’s choice and the dealer/seller’s malicious intent. Sometimes, batteries get stolen from warehouses/sites of telecom towers and then are resold in the market. We cannot control that!” He advises the consumers to sell used batteries of their brands to the company so that they could be recycled and hence not resold in the market. The import and subsequent use of these old batteries with no mention of the date of manufacturing is discouraging people from using products of solar panels in Pakistan, as they consider it a failure of solar system panels.
M Aslam Azad, Managing Director of Ageco (pvt) Limited, has also suffered a huge loss due to unintentional purchase of these expired batteries. His company manufactures products powered by solar panels so they use dry batteries in its products to store energy. He has also made written complaints to the CEO of Engineering Developing Board (EDB) and CEO Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), but still a response from the latter is awaited.
His complaint to the CEO of AEDB stated, “It has been found that a company A.O Intl Karachi imports dry batteries such a Narada and NorthStar blue and other brands, which are either found expired at shelf or used, as their efficiency ranges from 5 to 20 %. Such products are either partially used or expired”. In his complain to EDB, he requested the authority to stop clearance of those batteries which do not have the manufacturing date printed on them and put restrictions on the use such batteries which have exceeded a year’s time.
In developed countries, consumers cannot dump old batteries themselves – they are required to return them to a proper recycling center from where; these batteries are moved to a facility that extracts the electrolyte and manufactures a new battery. There are companies in Singapore, Malaysia and some other countries which gather used batteries from consumers and sell them to battery manufacturers for recycling. However, there are rules that govern the sale/recycling of used batteries. Unfortunately, no such system exists in Pakistan that may supervise and regulate the business of buying/purchasing and proper disposal of dry batteries.