A Model of Sustainability and Circularity

Sustainable icon for lead batteries

Today’s innovative lead batteries are key to a cleaner, greener future. They’re also the most environmentally sustainable battery technology and a stellar example of a circular economy.

Storing Renewable Energy and Supporting Green Technologies

The lead battery industry is fostering global sustainability by evolving to meet the world’s growing energy demands.

In transportation, lead batteries reduce greenhouse gas emissions in vehicles with start-stop engines and help cut fuel consumption in those vehicles by up to 10%. In the renewable energy sector, lead batteries store wind and solar power, to ensure a steady supply of electricity, regardless of nature’s fluctuations.

Lead battery life has increased by 30-35% in the last 20 years. Collaborative research by Argonne National Laboratory and Missouri University of Science and Technology will further improve battery performance for green applications.

Sustainable Closed-Loop Infrastructure

An established recycling infrastructure gives lead batteries a nearly 100% recycling rate. This steady supply of recycled lead battery components means a new lead battery is comprised of more than 80% recycled material.

Furthermore, the lead from these batteries can be infinitely recycled with no loss of performance. That greatly reduces the use of virgin materials, a key goal of the circular economy model.

Sustainable car lead battery
A new lead battery is typically comprised of more than 80% recycled material, thanks to the circular model of the industry.

A Circular Economy Leader

The lead battery industry is a leader in creating a circular economy. In comparing sustainable practices across all life stages, no other battery chemistry equals lead batteries’ closed-loop and remanufacturing success.

Another component of a lead battery’s circular economy model involves designing for recycling, efficiency and remanufacture. As lead battery manufacturers innovate and design new batteries, they collaborate with others to design batteries for recycling and resource efficiency. This helps streamline the recycling of the battery’s key components (lead, plastic, acid) for reuse.

Lead batteries are a model for other battery chemistries – and industries – in how to responsibly design, make, use, recycle and remanufacture materials.

Reporting from InsideEPA: Lead Batteries’ Top Sustainability Score May Be Model For Other Sectors.

line line line line line circle white lines arrow arrow arrow arrow icon icon icon icon icon White Glow White Glow White Glow White Glow White Glow icon icon icon icon icon

STEP 1:

Manufacturing

STEP 2:

Use

STEP 3:

Collection

STEP 4:

Recycling

STEP 5:

Sourcing &
Materials
Efficiency

battery
Lead from lead
batteries can be
infinitely recycled
with no loss of
performance.
Worldwide, lead
batteries are used
in virtually every
hybrid and
electric vehicle.
Modern, closed-loop
recycling in the U.S.
keeps 130 million
lead batteries
from
landfills each year.
Lead batteries
have a 99%
recycling rate,
the
highest of any consumer
product in the U.S.
U.S. lead battery
manufacturers source
approximately 73% of
lead
from domestic
recycling facilities.

What is a Circular Economy?

In a traditional, linear economic model, products – including other types of batteries – are designed, used and disposed of. This creates excess waste based on a take-make-use-waste extractive industrial pattern. In contrast, lead batteries use a circular economic model. A circular economy promotes sustainable materials management throughout the life cycle of a product and relies on a make-use-recycle-remanufacture (or closed-loop) pattern.

In a circular economy, the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible, and waste and resource use are minimized. When a battery has reached its end of life (EOL), its materials are kept within the economy, to be used again and again to create further value. In many cases, including in the lead battery industry, product designers design for recycling and efficiency from the outset, anticipating use beyond EOL.

Circular economy model reduces emissions

Why is a Circular Economy Important?

A circular economy, such as the lead battery industry, can reduce CO2 emissions, reduce the scale of the challenge of decarbonizing materials production and contain the cost of achieving an industrial base compatible with a low-carbon economy.

As reported by the EPA, global competition for finite resources will intensify as world population and economies grow. Research shows that 62% of U.S. firms are planning to move to a circular economy. The lead battery industry leads the curve by being among the 16% that have already adopted this sustainable business strategy.

Reusing recycled materials fosters energy independence and contributes to a more reliable secondary supply chain. This also helps to maintain national security by strengthening the resilience of power grids, internet services and databanks as they confront the challenges of an increasingly digital economy.

Related Content

Alan French from QTS Data Centers

Data is critical. Data is growing at a rapid rate, and energy storage [and] battery backup systems are key in keeping our data centers available.

Alan French, Vice President of Engineering, QTS Data Centers