April 23, 2021: A ‘Great Battery Roundup’ was launched by American Automobile Association in New York to mark international Earth Day on April 22.
The programme was designed to encourage motorists to take their old car or boat batteries to local collection points in return for a donation to an environmental charity.
“Each year, approximately 97% of vehicle batteries are recycled,” the AAA says. “However, the remaining 3% adds up to millions of pounds of lead and gallons of sulfuric acid. These can be discharged into the environment, creating health and safety hazards for humans and animals, as well as a potential fire hazard.”
While the 97% figure is a remarkable one for the US, it is more problematic attempting to come up with a rate in the EU, partly because batteries collected can be placed on the market in one country and collected at end-of-life in another one, due to automotive batteries often being exported or imported as part of a second-hand vehicle.
The ongoing revision to the EU Batteries Directive is looking at collection targets and how to monitor them, and should be published later this year.
Lead car batteries are well known for being one of the world’s most recyclable commodities, with 9.5kg of lead, 4kg of plastic and 4.5 litres of sulfuric acid on average in each one, according to AAA.
“The lead-acid battery industry was an early innovator of closed-loop recycling and remains a leader in this efficient, economical process,” it says. “This process reclaims materials from spent batteries and uses them in the production of new units.
“Lead costs are on the rise, so recycling spent batteries protects the environment but also reclaims valuable lead and plastic for manufacturing, saving energy and money on raw materials.”