Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of recycling?
According the EPA, these are some benefits of recycling:
- Reduction in waste sent to landfills
- Conservation of natural resources, such as metals and minerals
- Helps prevent pollution by reducing the need to collect new, raw materials
- Saves energy
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations
- Helps create new, well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States
- Once the materials are recycled they can be reused in making new products
How are lead acid batteries recycled?
The battery is broken apart in a hammer mill, a machine that hammers the battery into pieces. The broken battery pieces are then placed into a vat, where the lead and heavy materials fall to the bottom and the plastic floats. At this point, the polypropylene pieces are scooped away and the liquids are drawn off, leaving the lead and heavy metals. Each of the materials goes into a different recycling “stream”.
Plastic – Polypropylene pieces are washed, blown dry and sent to a plastic recycler where the pieces are melted together into an almost liquid state. The molten plastic is put through an extruder that produces small plastic pellets of a uniform size. The pellets are put back into manufacturing battery cases and the process begins again.
Lead – Lead grids, lead oxide and other lead parts are cleaned and heated within smelting furnaces. The molten melted lead is then poured into ingot molds. After a few minutes, the impurities float to the top of the still molten lead in the ingot molds. These impurities are scraped away and the ingots are left to cool. When the ingots are cool, they’re removed from the molds and sent to battery manufacturers, where they’re re-melted and used in the production of new batteries.
Sulfuric Acid – Old battery acid can be handled in two ways:
- The acid is neutralized with an industrial compound similar to household baking soda. Neutralization turns the acid into water. The water is then treated, cleaned, tested in a waste water treatment plant to be sure it meets clean water standards.
- The acid is processed and converted to sodium sulfate, an odorless white powder that’s used in laundry detergent, glass and textile manufacturing. Lead acid batteries are closed-loop recycled; meaning each part the old batteries is recycled into a new battery. It is estimated that 98% of all lead acid batteries are recycled.