Car batteries recycled by 98 percent of automotive aftermarket companies

Used car batteries await recycling.

A car battery can lead a long and productive life, but sooner or later, this important part of the vehicle’s starting and charging system will need to be replaced. When the time comes to say goodbye to your car battery, rest assured that it’s being recycled by 98 percent of automotive aftermarket companies, including auto repair shops, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and jobbers, according to a study by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA).

As a result of these efforts, an estimated 65 million automotive batteries were recycled in 2010, equal to 1.5 billion lbs. of lead, according to AAIA’s Aftermarket Factbook.

“Battery recycling is just one of many ways automotive aftermarket companies contribute to a cleaner environment,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “These businesses have been green long before being green was mainstream.”

More than 95 percent of an automotive battery can be recycled. The lead, plastic, acid and sulfuric acid found in batteries are reclaimed and reused in the manufacturing of new batteries.

The lead is cleaned and melted and used in the production of new lead plates and other parts for new batteries. The plastic is cleaned and melted into pellets used to manufacturer new battery cases. Old battery acid can be neutralized into water, which after treatment, cleaning and testing, can be released into the public sewer system, or it can be converted into sodium sulfate and used in laundry detergent, glass and textiles.

In addition to recycling batteries, automotive aftermarket companies recycle tires, used oil and oil filters, parts cleaning solvents, scrap metal, plastics, cardboard and paper, a/c refrigerant, dunnage and wood pallets.

The study is part of AAIA’s initiative to illustrate the automotive aftermarket industry’s widespread efforts on behalf of the environment. The information is presented in AAIA’s “Driving Toward a Cleaner Environment: The Automotive Aftermarket’s Green Story,” and in the short video, AAIA Green.