Lead Batteries Are The US’ Most Recycled Product
4 Nov 2015
Missouri lead recycler gives second life to valuable metals and plastics
ST. LOUIS (November 4, 2015) – North America produces more than 105 million replacement batteries a year to power everything from golf carts and cars, to tractors, boats and trains. Fortunately, 99 percent of these lead batteries are recycled, including nearly 13.5 million that are recycled here in Missouri.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lead batteries are the most recycled material in the United States, far surpassing other commonly recycled products, like paper (67 percent recycling rate) and aluminum cans (55 percent recycling rate). Recycling lead keeps materials out of landfills, and gives lead a second life for use in other products.
“Each American requires about 903 pounds of lead in their lifetime to start cars, power cell phone towers, and protect us from medical imaging and other treatments,” said Steve Batts, vice president – Southeast Missouri Operations at The Doe Run Company (Doe Run). “Companies like Doe Run mine for new lead, but more than half of the world’s lead actually comes from recycling. It is critical that we recycle existing lead so we have enough of this important metal to continue to meet our country’s needs. At our Resource Recycling facility in Boss, we are able to recover nearly 160,000 tons of lead annually so it can be put to a new use.”
Consumers play a critical role in the recycling process by turning in used car, boat or ATV batteries at local retailers, such as AutoZone, O’Reilly or Wal-Mart. Some consumer electronic equipment, including cell phones, old televisions with glass monitors and old computer monitors, may also contain valuable metals and materials, such as lead, and can be dropped off for recycling in communities across the state. Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources website provides a list of registered electronic recycling facilities in Missouri at: http://dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/electronics/recyclerlist.htm.
“When people drop off their car batteries or old electronic equipment at Missouri collection sites, it is likely that our Resource Recycling facility will be the facility to recover the valuable lead metal from the scrap materials,” said Batts. “We receive scrap materials not only from Missouri, but also from the broader Midwest region.”
As one of the world’s largest single-site lead recycling centers, Resource Recycling has the capacity to recover lead from more than 13.5 million lead-acid batteries annually, as well as the lead from electronics and spent ammunition.
Lead plays an important role in modern society. Lead-acid batteries start more than 1 billion vehicles globally, and provide back-up power in the event of a power outage.
Batteries also store renewable energy generated from solar and wind farms, reducing the need for coal-fired energy and diversifying the energy mix. Beyond batteries, lead is used to weatherproof roofs, soundproof buildings and shield patients from x-ray radiation. It also can be used to safely transport and store nuclear power.
About The Doe Run Company
Based in St. Louis, The Doe Run Company is a privately held natural resources company and a global provider of lead, copper and zinc concentrates. Dedicated to environmentally responsible mineral and metal production, Doe Run operates one of the world’s largest single-site lead recycling centers, located in Boss, Mo. The Doe Run Company and its subsidiaries deliver products and services necessary to provide power, protection and convenience. Doe Run has operations in Missouri, Washington and Arizona. For more information, visit www.doerun.com and sustainability.doerun.com.
Editor’s Note: If you wish to include local Missouri electronic waste drop-off sites in the article, you will find a list at http://dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/electronics/recyclerlist.htm.