Battery Recycling

Did you know? A typical new lead-acid battery is made with 60 to 80 percent recycled lead and plastic.[1]

Designed to be cradle-to-cradle, lead-acid batteries are one of the most recycled consumer products in the United States. In fact, more than 98 percent of all battery lead is recycled.[2]

New York State has made recycling mandatory for lead-acid batteries. Signed into law in 1990, Environmental Conservation Law 27-1701 declared it to be in the public interest to facilitate the collection and recycling of lead-acid batteries by prohibiting the improper disposal of lead-acid batteries, establishing a financial incentive for the return of used batteries, and requiring lead-acid battery retailers and distributors to accept used batteries free of charge from the public.[3]

In FY2012, LIU Post recycled 9,465 pounds of lead-acid batteries with East Penn Manufacturing, the maker of Deka Batteries. Based out of Lyon Station, Pennsylvania, East Penn operates a state-of-the-art battery recycling facility that processes approximately 30,000 batteries per day, or about 17 million batteries per year.[4]

When recycled, the lead-acid battery is broken down into three different components – lead, plastic, and acid.

East Penn has implemented a closed-loop system for each:[5]

  • Their smelter recycles nearly 200 million pounds of lead each year, which is then used in the production of new lead plates and other parts for new batteries.
  • Their on-site injection molding facility recycles over 11.8 million pounds of plastic each year by cleaning the plastic battery cases and covers and grinding them into polypropylene pellets which are then molded into new battery cases.
  • Their acid reclamation plant, also the first in the industry, recycles approximately 6 million gallons of acid every year, enough to fill over 9 Olympic-size swimming pools, diverting this material from potentially hazardous disposal.
  • And lastly, 100% of their industrial wastewater is recycled at their two highly advanced water treatment plants, recycling over 31.5 million gallons of water per year.

East Penn Manufacturing has made sustainability a high priority and in turn has led by example in the battery recycling industry by incorporating sustainability into nearly every facet of their business model.

To learn more about the lead-acid battery recycling process at East Penn, please watch the video found here.

In total, LIU Post recycled 9,899 pounds of batteries. The remaining 434 pounds were generated through our campus battery recycling program and consisted mainly of alkaline batteries and other rechargeable batteries such as lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Recycling these batteries doesn’t just keep potentially hazardous materials out of landfills; it also provides a second life for the materials in the battery.

An alkaline battery, for example, can be separated into 3 end products:[6]

  • Zinc and Manganese Concentrate
  • Steel
  • Paper and Plastic

All of these products are 100% recyclable and can be put back into the market for reuse in new products.

Nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride can also be recycled via a High-Temperature Metal Reclamation (HTMR) process during which all of the high temperature metals contained within the battery feedstock (i.e. nickel, iron, manganese, and chromium) report to a molten-metal bath within a furnace, amalgamate, and then solidify during a casting operation whereas low-metal metals (i.e. zinc and cadmium) separate during the melting.[7]

Essentially, all types of batteries are made of the same types of materials – all of which are recyclable. Therefore, it makes sense to do what we can to not waste these valuable resources and LIU Post is proud to be charging forward with this new recycling initiative.

[1] From Battery Council International

[2] From Battery Council International

[4] East Penn Manufacturing Corporate Sustainability Report, Sustainability At A Glance, Page 4

[5] Following statistics are from East Penn Manufacturing Corporate Sustainability Report, Sustainability At A Glance, Page 4

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