October 7, 2021: Bulgarian lead-acid battery maker Monbat today marked 21 years since its recycling line opened with a white paper that reviews its entire circular business model, from raw materials supply to the recycling operations.
The company launched its recycling line for lead batteries in the US state of Montana in 2000. In 2009 it set up its subsidiary, Monbat Recycling EAD, which had a recycling capacity of 38,400 tonnes.
Today the company recycles 185,200 tonnes of lead batteries.
“In the period 2001-2003 the company produced new batteries using approximately 54% of recycled lead,” the paper says. “Nowadays, 21 years later, the circular economic approach has become the main approach adopted by the Monbat Group. Hence in a normal supply of lead scrap the company is able to maintain the production process with its own available lead (with 99.99% and 99.985% purity) and lead alloys (antimony and calcium) from 15 to 30 days.”
“Achieving a close to 100% recycling of waste lead-acid batteries is not merely a vision, but rather a strategy of the Group and its implementation involves synergistically all companies in the Group,” says the white paper, which is on the company’s website for anyone to download.
It will be continually updated, the firm says.
Monbat does admit that ‘a relatively small portion of the mass and volume of waste batteries is not subject to recycling’ — ie polyethylene separators.
“The polyethylene separator currently is not subject to economically justifiable recycling, and is therefore handed over to specialized companies for storage, as it is classified as a hazardous waste due to the residual lead content, lead compounds and electrolyte sulfuric acid,” says the white paper.
It says that recycling companies are seeking technological solutions for dealing with the final status of this type of industrial waste in two major directions: by physical or chemical treatment until it can be treated as non-hazardous waste and safely stored or incinerated; or chemically treating the separator to extract the silica compounds to be used in making new separators.