Supplying batteries since 1952

Car Battery Recycling – A Green Success Story

Written on December 9, 2015 at 2:30 pm

At Manbat, we are committed to operating as an environmentally responsible organisation.

Although the name may imply otherwise, Lead Acid batteries can be considered the environmental success story of our time. Statistics indicate that in excess of 99% of all battery lead is recycled. When you compare this to averages of 55% of aluminum soft drink and beer cans, 45% of newspapers, 26% of glass bottles and 26% of tyres, it soon becomes evident that lead-acid batteries come top of the list of the most highly recycled consumer products.

Motor vehicle batteries or ‘lead batteries’  gain their environmental edge from their closed-loop life cycle. A typical new lead battery already contains 60 to 80
percent recycled lead and plastic. When a used battery is collected, it is sent by the manufacturer or local authority recycling centre to an authorised recycling facility where, under strict environmental regulations, the lead and plastic are reclaimed and sent to a new battery manufacturer.

This cycle of recycling can be repeated indefinitely. That means the lead and plastic in the lead-acid battery in your car, van, boat or motorcycle have been – and will continue to be – recycled a great number of times. This makes lead battery disposal extremely successful from both environmental and cost perspectives.


Prior to recycling, it is important to remember that you should always store and dispose of used car batteries carefully to avoid danger.

 

Safety First

Safety is paramount at all times when handling car batteries, and disposing of them is no exception. There are several reasons why care should be taken and following some key tips will help you to stay safe:

  • Battery acid can burn clothing and skin and even cause blindness if it leaks. Always wear protective clothing when inspecting a battery prior to disconnection/transportation – or even better, leave it to a professional.
  • Ensure you have disconnected the battery prior to inspection.
  • Disconnect the negative cable first and reconnect it last.
  • Carry out a thorough inspection of the battery’s condition before moving it; using an inspection lamp to check all sides of the battery for marks, dents or leaks.
  • If the battery has any severe dents or leaks then contact a professional mechanic or breakdown service for assistance and get it repaired or replaced; Do not attempt to move it.
  • During transport, the terminals should be covered so they cannot be shorted out.
  • The battery should be kept upright at all times.
  • Be careful when lifting and carrying the battery. Seek assistance if required.

 

Car Battery Recycling Safety First

 

The Battery Recycling Process

There are five basic steps to the battery recycling process.

Collection

The used battery is collected. Today, this service is often operated by the major battery suppliers, making use of their own transport networks. Alternatively, you can take your battery to a local authority recycling station.

The battery is delivered to a registered recycling facility, where it is broken down into components for the recycling process to begin. The battery is broken apart in a hammermill, a machine that hammers the battery into pieces, which then go into a vat, where the lead and heavy materials fall to the bottom while the plastic rises to the top. At this point, the polypropylene elements are collected and the liquids are removed, leaving the lead and heavy metals. Each of the materials goes into a different “stream.”

Plastic

The 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. Those pellets are sold to the manufacturer of battery cases, and the process begins again. One of the unique qualities of plastic is its ability to be reused over and over again, and the plastic in a vehicle battery is no exception.

Lead

The lead components of the battery including grids, lead oxide and other lead parts are cleaned and then melted together in smelting furnaces. The molten lead is poured into ingot molds. Large ingots, weighing in the region of 900 kg are called hogs. Smaller ingots, weighing about 30kg, are called pigs. After a short time, the impurities, otherwise known as dross, float to the top of the still-molten lead in the ingot molds. The dross is scraped away and the ingots are left to cool.

Once cool, the ingots are removed from the molds and sent to battery manufacturers, where they are re-melted and used in the production of new lead plates and other parts for new batteries.

Sulfuric Acid

Old battery acid is a highly corrosive mineral acid and, if not handled with proper caution, can be dangerous. There are however, two methods for it safe processing:

The first approach to treatment involves neutralising the acid with an industrial compound that is not unlike household baking soda. This turns the acid into water, which is then treated, cleaned and tested to be sure it meets clean water standards. Then it is released into the public sewer system.

.Another way to treat acid is to process it and convert it to sodium sulfate, an odorless white powder that’s used in laundry detergent, glass and textile manufacturing. This takes a material that would be discarded and turns it into a useful product – adding even more value to the battery lifecycle.  Acid can also be reclaimed and reused in new battery products through innovative recycling processes.

 

Car Battery Recycling

 

Manbat and the Environment

To learn more about Manbat’s commitment to the environment, visit our recycling page, where you will find information including our Environmental Policy, compliance guidance on waste batteries and more information about our parent company Ecobat technologies –  the only company worldwide which operates a completely closed recycling loop for lead-acid batteries.

 

Manbat Ltd is registered with the Environment Agency national database as a producer of Industrial and Automotive batteries, our reference number is: NPWD232551

 

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