Lead is one of the most widely recycled materials in the world. Today 80 percent of the world's total consumption of lead is in the use of lead acid batteries where the primary demand is in the automobile industry.
The battery has had a great track record of recycling. Since 98 percent of battery components can be recycled so the battery is a true success story in recycling. In some countries recycling rates are as high as 100 percent. In the United States alone, there are more than 99 million batteries made per year and over 96 percent of those are recycled. In fact, as you can see by viewing the chart below, the lead acid battery is the most recycled consumer product in the world!
According to a document entitled "The Facts About Lead: The Energy Solution" created by Battery Council International, a battery is separated into three components during the recycling process. First, the lead is smelted and refined for new batteries. Then the plastic case is cleaned and molded into new battery cases. Even the used acid is recycled during this process.
Recycled lead is much cheaper and more efficient to produce than raw ore. It is estimated that it takes 25 percent or less of the energy to produce recycled lead material compared to that of raw ore.
As the processes of recycling have improved through the years, these numbers have also improved. This makes lead a wonder because of its great success in the recycling world. Today the lead metals market is centered around recycling which actually drives the metal prices.
If you'd like to learn more about lead battery recycling, you can visit Battery Council International's website. You can also view and/or download the council's "Facts About Lead" document below. Be sure to take a look at the graphic in the document from Battery Council International to get a better understanding of the recycling process for lead compared to plastic and other recyclables.