Missouri lead recycler also gives second life to battery materials

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 13, 2017) — National Battery Day on February 18 gives us the opportunity to consider how essential batteries are in our everyday lives, but did you know that southeast Missouri’s minerals play a vital role in producing these important energy storage devices? Missouri’s geology is home to many naturally occurring minerals, including the lead and zinc ore that can be used to manufacture batteries that power our world – from the lead-based batteries that start 1 billion vehicles worldwide to the zinc-carbon batteries that run a flashlight or remote control.

“Many companies rely on Missouri lead and zinc mined by The Doe Run Company (Doe Run),” said Lou Magdits, director of raw materials. “Some of the company’s largest customers are U.S. companies that produce batteries for all applications. What’s more, millions of lead batteries return to Missouri to be recycled at Doe Run’s Resource Recycling facility, one of the largest single-site lead recycling facilities in the world.”

Originally invented in 1859, lead batteries today power vehicles, help to store renewable wind and solar energy, and provide backup power for critical operations, such as air traffic control towers, hospitals and financial centers. Recent advances promise to bring additional advantages to car owners. The Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium and partners have worked to produce a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) system with a 48-volt advanced lead carbon battery to meet air quality and ultra-low emission requirements for the next generation of road vehicles. Testing confirms that the system can deliver a 10-12 percent reduction in fuel consumption.

Zinc-based batteries have been used for many decades in applications ranging from toys, electronics and hearing aids to the rechargeable batteries in power tools, and even powering aircraft and space applications.

National Battery Day is a Reminder to Recycle

More than 99 percent of lead batteries are recycled in the U.S., making them the most recycled consumer product. By comparison, less than 1 percent of lithium is recycled, and only a few companies are able to recycle lithium-ion batteries. The lead battery recycling rate also far surpasses other commonly recycled products, like paper at a 67 percent recycling rate and aluminum cans at a 55 percent recycling rate. Zinc also can be fully recycled without experiencing any loss of properties or qualities so it can be put to new uses.

Recycling keeps materials out of landfills, and gives these materials a second life for use in other products. In fact, more than half of the world’s lead actually comes from recycling.

“In the U.S. alone, lead battery recycling keeps 2.4 million tons of batteries out of landfills, including nearly 13.5 million batteries that are recycled annually at the Resource Recycling facility,” said Magdits. “Since it opened in 1991, Resource Recycling has recycled enough batteries to circle the globe.”

An easy process contributes to the high recycling rate for lead-based batteries. Consumers can simply turn in used car, boat or ATV batteries at local retailers where these batteries can be purchased.

Some consumer electronic equipment and batteries, including cell phones, old televisions with glass monitors and old computer monitors, may also contain valuable metals and materials, 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: dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/electronics/recyclerlist.htm.

About The Doe Run Company

Based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, 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, Missouri, and mines from one of the world’s largest lead mining districts, also in Missouri. 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.