Lead-acid Battery Recycling Rate Remains Strong

Chicago, IL - American motorists continue to return spent lead-acid batteries for recycling at a high rate, according to a report issued by Battery Council International (BCI).

The BCI 1995-1999 National Recycling Rate Study tracks the lead recycling rate from spent (or used) automotive, truck, motorcycle, marine, garden tractor and other lead-acid batteries. According to the report, between 1995 and 1999, the battery industry captured and recycled 93.3 percent of the lead from spent lead-acid batteries.

The lead-acid battery industry, which is the country's largest user of lead, has been recycling and reclaiming lead from its spent products for nearly 75 years. Its trade organization, BCI, was instrumental in helping pass the lead-acid battery recycling laws that prohibit the disposal of spent lead-acid batteries and require batteries to be collected through a take-back program. Those laws are now on the books in 42 states. The BCI model battery recycling legislation was designed to promote the industry's highly effective, reverse distribution battery collection infrastructure.

Most major retailers and auto parts stores collect spent batteries from consumers who buy replacement batteries. Consumers who do not trade in their spent automotive batteries generally are charged a deposit that averages from $4 to $7 per battery, depending on the retailer and the state.

"Consumers who turn in their spent automotive batteries not only boost the lead recycling rate, but they also pocket the battery deposits instead of paying them," said Mr. Wandell.

Battery recyclers reclaim the lead - and today, plastic from battery cases - along with any scrap lead from the production floors and lead particles captured in environmental control equipment, returning the materials to manufacturers who use them in new batteries and other products such as X-ray shielding. In a continuous cycle, the battery industry reclaims and reuses lead and plastic indefinitely, keeping them out of the waste stream.

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