The first Earth Day in 1970 was an environmental teach-in celebrated by an estimated 20 million people nationwide. Today, it’s believed that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries participate in one of the largest days of action in the world.1
Lead battery manufacturers and lead battery recyclers are proud to mark the day with their three-fold contribution to sustainability:
- A nearly 100 percent rate of product recycling
- A closed-loop process that forms a perfect example of a circular economy
- A growing presence in providing energy storage solutions for renewable power sources
The Recycling Leader
No other consumer product in the United States can beat lead batteries’ 99.3 recycling rate. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lead batteries are the most recycled consumer product in the United States, surpassing other well-known recycled products such as newspapers, aluminum cans, tires and glass containers.2 Even lithium-ion batteries have a less than 5 percent recycling rate.
In fact, the lead in lead batteries is infinitely recyclable, and most new batteries contain up to 80 percent recycled lead.3 Moreover, every part of the battery, from lead and plastic to sulfuric acid is recyclable and reusable in manufacturing new batteries and other products. This reduces the need for new lead mining, reduces waste and helps keep lead batteries out of landfills.
This achievement is attributed to the successful state recycling laws, which the industry has worked to promulgate in more than 30 states over the past 25 years. These laws were designed to return spent batteries to manufacturers and other related businesses, thereby minimizing the risk of being diverted to inappropriate waste streams.
A Model Circular Economy
The lead battery industry is also the world’s most successful example of a circular economy. The World Economic Forum and The Sustainability Consortium, among others, have recognized the lead battery industry’s state-of-the-art closed-loop process. This is most notable in the design, production, transportation, recycling and reuse of vehicle batteries.
A Green Energy Storage Solution
Lead batteries are an essential part of the mix of battery chemistries that will revolutionize how we design and operate electric power grids to support renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse gases.
Renewable—or green—energy is critical to help the world transition away from conventional energy. But harvesting green energy, such as wind and solar, isn’t enough. We need the ability to store and then regulate energy distribution in a cost-effective, reliable and sustainable way. That’s what advanced lead batteries do!
The lead battery and recycling industries, along with their 20,000-plus employees, are proud to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable and environmentally conscious business practices—not just on Earth Day, but every day.
2 EPA, Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Fact Sheet, November 2016
3 “Environmental Impact and Life Cycle Assessment of Lead Battery and Architectural Sheet Production,” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2016