Auto Service World
News   October 18, 2001   by Auto Service World

U.S. Battery Recycling Remains Strong

Motorists continue to return spent car batteries for recycling at a high rate, according to a report issued today by Battery Council International (BCI).
The BCI 1995-1999 National Recycling Rate Study tracks the lead recycling rate from spent (or used) automotive, truck, motorcycle, marine, garden tractor and other lead-acid batteries in the U.S.. According to the report, between 1995 and 1999, the battery industry captured and recycled 93.3 percent of the lead from spent lead-acid batteries. “This high recycling rate of battery lead is the result of a successful collaboration among members of the battery industry, retailers and consumers,” said Keith Wandell, acting president of BCI. “It proves that a workable infrastructure helps boost consumers’ participation in recycling.”
The lead-acid battery industry, which is the largest user of lead in the U.S. (and probably Canada), has been recycling and reclaiming lead from its spent products for nearly 75 years. Its trade organization, BCI, was instrumental in helping pass the lead-acid battery recycling laws that prohibit the disposal of spent lead-acid batteries and require batteries to be collected through a take-back program.
The BCI model battery recycling legislation was designed to promote the industry’s highly effective, reverse distribution battery collection infrastructure. Most major retailers and auto parts stores collect spent batteries from consumers who buy replacement batteries. “The lead in your car battery today could have been first used in a battery 50 years ago,” said Mr. Wandell. BCI has been tracking the recycling rate of battery lead since 1987. The recycling rate of battery lead has consistently ranked higher than other recyclable commodities including newspapers, aluminum cans, and plastic and glass bottles. “Lead-acid battery recycling in the U.S. is one of the environmental success stories of the 20th century,” said Mr. Wandell. “We know that other countries are recycling used lead-acid batteries, and we are encouraged that they are considering tracking and publishing the data so that the battery industry can publish global recycling rates for its used products.”

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