Infinite Recycling and Beyond

The U.S. lead battery industry’s commitment to safe and sustainable recycling methods ensures that lead batteries are an essential part of an energy storage mix to achieve a cleaner, greener future.

America’s Most Recycled Consumer Product

In 2020, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noted that the recycling rate of lead batteries exceeded that of other more well-known recycled products such as aluminum cans (50.4%), tires (40%), glass containers (31.3%), PET bottles (29.1%) and more. This high recycling rate contributes to the fact that on average, a new lead battery is comprised of more than 80% recycled material.

Lead batteries, with their 99% recycling rate, are infinitely recyclable, especially when compared to the fewer than 15% recycling rate of lithium-ion batteries. The lead battery industry’s commitment to efficient recycling methods ensures that lead batteries are an essential part of an energy storage mix to achieve a cleaner, greener future.

Recycling and the Circular Economy

Established Circular Model

The state-of-the-art closed-loop process for recycling lead batteries that ensures lead batteries’ high rate of recycling has been recognized by the World Economic Forum and MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics as the world’s most successful example of a circular economy.

Designed for Recycling and Efficiency

During the recycling process, the battery is broken down into its primary components: lead, plastic and acid, which are separated for reuse. The lead from spent batteries is melted, refined and poured into molds to create ingots (lead bricks) used to build new batteries. The plastic cover and case of a spent lead battery are crushed, cleaned, melted and formed into pellets to make new battery covers and cases. Spent acid is either recycled and reused in batteries, neutralized into water or converted into sodium sulfate, an odorless powder used in laundry detergents, textiles and glass.

Conserves Resources and Creates New Value

After the recycling process is complete, materials are ready for reuse. On average, a new lead battery is comprised of over 80% recycled material and the lead from these batteries can be infinitely recycled with no loss of performance. That, coupled with a recycling rate of nearly 100%, greatly reduces the use of virgin materials. This is a key goal of the circular economy, which reduces energy and greenhouse gas emissions.

Reliable Domestic Supply Chain

A steady supply of recycled lead battery components allows lead battery manufacturers to use safe, sustainable practices to make new batteries. A nation-wide infrastructure, high recycling awareness and the economic value inherent in lead battery components ensures consumers and industries return spent lead batteries to the collection system which in turn supplies manufacturers with a reliable stream of materials for reuse.

Safely Recycling to Protect Our Employees

Keeping our employees safe is ingrained in everything we do. Watch the video to learn how the lead battery industry not only values but also prioritizes employee safety.

Promoting Responsible Lead Battery Recycling

The U.S. lead battery industry, with its established circular infrastructure, is a model for other countries and battery chemistries in how to responsibly source, use, reuse and manage materials.

The industry is committed to working with others to end informal battery recycling in other parts of the world.

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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