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Lead / Acid Battery Recycling

The recycling of lead / acid batteries have become an environmental success story of modern time, with more than 97% of all battery lead is recycled in US. In comparison to aluminum soft drink and beer cans (55%), newspapers (45%), glass bottles (26%) and tires (26%), lead / acid batteries top the list of the highly recycled consumer products.

The lead-acid batteries gain environmental edge from their closed-loop life cycle. The usual new lead-acid batteries contain 60 - 80 % recycled plastic and lead. When a used battery is collected, it is sent to a permitted recycling center, under the strict environmental regulations, the plastic and lead are reclaimed and sent to a new battery manufacturer. The recycling cycle goes on indefinitely, which means the lead and plastic in the lead-acid batteries that we use in our automotive vehicles have been - and will continue to be -- recycled many, many times. This makes lead-acid battery recycling extremely successful from the perspectives of both environment and cost.

Lead / Acid Batteries

Discovered in 1859, by French physicist Gaston Plante, Lead / Acid batteries are the oldest type of rechargeable batteries. Economical in cost, these batteries have a high power to weight ratio that makes them an attractive option for uses in cars, as they can provide the high current required required by automobile starter motors.more...

Recycling Process -

The recycling process of Lead / Acid batteries that helps in environmental protection involves five basic stages - The battery is broken apart in a hammer mill, which hammers the battery into pieces. The broken pieces of battery go into a vat, where the heavy materials and lead fall to the bottom, while the plastic pieces rise to the bottom. At this stage, the pieces of polypropylene are scooped away and the liquids are drawn off, thereby leaving the lead and heavy metals. All these materials goes into different streams.


The pieces of polypropylene are cleaned, blown dry and sent to a plastic recycler where the pieces are melted together into a virtual liquid state. The molten plastic is put through an extruder, which produces small plastic pellets of consistent size. Manufacturers of battery cases buy these pellets, and the process begins.


The lead oxide, lead grids, and other parts of lead are washed and and then melted together in smelting furnaces.

The molten lead is streamed into ingot molds. Large ingots that weigh around 2,000 pounds are known as hogs. Smaller ingots, that weigh around 65 pounds, are known as pigs. After few minutes, the impurities (known as dross), float to the top of the still-molten lead in the ingot molds. The impurities are scraped away and the ingots are left to cool.

When the ingots are cooled, they are taken from the molds and sent to battery manufacturers. The battery manufacturers re-melt and use these batteries in the production of new lead plates and other parts of new batteries. Sulfuric Acid

Old battery acid can be treated in two ways -
The acid is neutralized with an industrial compound, which is similar to the household baking soda. This converts the acid into water. The water is treated, cleaned and tested to ensure that it meets the clean water standards. After that it is released into the public sewer system.

Another method to treat acid is to process it and convert it to sodium sulfate, which is an odorless white powder used in glass, laundry detergent, and textile production. This takes a material, which would be discarded and converts it into a useful product.

Lead / Acid Battery Recycling - Industry Associations
  • Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries - ISRI
  • Association of Battery Recyclers
  • Battery Council International
  • Southeast Recycling Development Council Inc.
  • Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI)
  • Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association

Lead / Acid Battery Recycling Centers

Many retailers, auto parts stores or service outlets, which sell new lead-acid batteries in industrialized nations accept small amount of spent lead-acid batteries with their lead-acid battery recycling programs. In the case, you have a large quantity of lead / acid batteries for recycling, make a phone call to ensure that your chosen outlet can handle a large number of batteries.

United States

37 states in the U.S. require the lead-acid batteries for recycling. These states get the batteries from retailers who collect the spent lead / acid batteries from customers who buy new batteries. Based on the BCI's (Battery Council International) model lead acid battery recycling legislation, laws in these states ensure that consumers return their old lead / acid batteries for recycling.

Given below is a list of states with lead-acid battery recycling laws based on the BCI model:

Arizona Arkansas California Connecticut Florida Wyoming
Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Vermont
Iowa Kentucky Louisiana Maine Michigan Virginia
Minnesota Mississippi Missouri New Jersey New York Washington
North Carolina North Dakota Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania West Virginia
Rhode Island South Carolina Tennessee Texas Utah Wisconsin
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