Lead-acid batteries have been leaders in the recycling industry for more than ten years, with more lead from spent batteries having been recycled than any other consumer product. More than ninety percent of battery lead is recycled, versus 35 percent of glass containers, 62.5 percent of aluminum cans, and 69 percent of newspapers. The black color of many of these batteries demonstrates their ability to be recycled as this black plastic is the result of the recycling process, when many different-colored battery cases are broken into small pieces and melted together.
“Lead-Acid Batteries Still Top the Nation’s Recycling List” Lead-acid battery the nation’s most highly recycled consumer product.
Chicago, Ill. (June 20, 2005) -- The lead-acid battery industry, with help from consumers and retailers, recycled 99.2 percent of used battery lead (or 11.7 billion pounds of lead) from 1999 to 2003, according to a new report issued today by Battery Council International (BCI) the industry’s trade association. The data confirm that the lead-acid battery remains the nation’s most highly recycled consumer product.
“This high recycling rate for battery lead is the result of a successful collaboration among members of the battery industry, retailers and consumers,” said Randy Hart, President of BCI. “It proves that a workable infrastructure helps boost consumers’ participation in recycling.”
The lead-acid battery industry, which is the country’s largest user of lead, has been recycling and reclaiming lead from its used products for nearly 75 years. Battery Council International, a not-for-profit organization that represents the international lead-acid battery manufacturing and recycling industry, has tracked the lead recycling rate from used automotive, truck, motorcycle, marine, garden tractor, industrial and other lead-acid batteries since 1987.
“The lead-acid battery recycling structure has been proven to be efficient and highly successful, and no other battery chemistry comes near the recycling rate of lead-acid batteries,” said Mr. Hart. The recycling rate of battery lead has also consistently ranked higher than other recyclable commodities. The U.S. EPA lists 2003 recycling rates of other materials:
- Steel Cans: 60.0%
- Yard Trimmings: 56.3%
- Paper and Paperboard: 48.1%
- Aluminum Beer and Soft Drink Cans: 43.9%
- Tires: 35.6%
- Plastic Milk Bottles: 31.9%
- Plastic Soft Drink Containers: 25.2%
- Glass Containers: 22.0%
Along with the lead and plastic from used batteries, lead-acid battery recyclers also reclaim scrap lead from the production process. In a continuous cycle, the battery industry reclaims and reuses lead and plastic for use in new batteries, keeping these materials out of the waste stream. “Lead-acid battery recycling in the U.S. was one of the most significant environmental success stories of the 20th century and the trend continues into the 21st century,” said Mr. Hart.
The Battery Council International has been instrumental in promoting the enactment of lead-acid battery recycling requirements that are the law in 43 U.S. states. Today, the vast majority of U.S. retailers and auto parts stores collect used batteries from consumers in compliance with state recycling laws.
The BCI 1999-2003 National Recycling Rate Study and historical lead recycling data are available at www.batterycouncil.org.
For further information:
Maurice A. Desmarais CAE
Executive Vice President
Battery Council International
401 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611-4267