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Why Lead Recycling

Lead Recycling

Lead is a material which is very easy to recycle. It can be re-melted many times, and provided enough processes to remove impurities. The final product (termed as Secondary Lead) is indistinguishable in any way from primary Lead produced from the ore.

The amount of Lead recycled as a proportion of total production is already fairly high worldwide. Over 50% of Lead consumed is derived from recycled or re-used material.

Recycling rates of Lead are estimated to be much higher than for other materials.

Factors influencing high collection rates of Lead are :

  • The biggest consumer of Lead is the battery industry which has a very high rate of collection and return of scrap batteries in most EU Member States;

  • Many other products used in much smaller amounts are suitable for recycling, and may be returned via scrap merchants;

  • In conjunction with the iron and steel industries, Lead is recovered within the recycling processes of these industries;

  • Some applications which result in its unrecoverable dispersal into the environment, in particular as petrol additives and some paint uses, are being drastically reduced.

Recycling is performed where the industry finds it economic to do so.

Recovering scrap metal has the advantages that it is easier and much less energy intensive than producing primary Lead from ore (the production of recycled Lead requires 35-40% of the energy needed to produce Lead from ore.) Recycling also reduces dispersal of Lead in the environment and conserves mineral resources for the future. It is estimated that at least 85% of Lead consumed could potentially be recycled. However, in practice the amount that is recovered is lower.

Lead Battery Scrap is a hazardous waste & unsafe disposal creates heavy environmental & health problems. Careful recycling is essential, beneficial & cost effective in comparison to cost of treatment & disposal. Secondary production of Lead (recycling) from scrap result in less solid waste, uses less energy & reduces the consumption of minerals resources compared to the Lead production from the ores.

The role of recycling in the production of metals continues to grow. Due to the high value of metals, economic considerations are usually sufficient to ensure reasonably high recycling rates and efforts to increase it. Environmental concerns currently play a secondary role.

Some Lead products are not recycled, either because it is not economic to do so at present, or simply because it is not practical to do so. However, recycling rates are generally increasing. Legislative and economic factors are two key incentives for this increase.

Improved waste management systems, such as incentives for battery recovery, guidelines for handling old building materials, old vehicles, electronic scrap, stricter quality demands for dumping materials and also progress in production techniques tend to generate higher recycling rates.