Proper Battery Recycling Protects Children from Lead Contamination

Jan 11, 2021 | News, Sponsored

ARA Expert Tod

A recent report published by the environmental group Pure Earth and the United Nations agency UNICEF showed 800 million children around the world have dangerous volumes of lead in their blood streams.  The study cites a wide range of factors responsible for high levels of lead in children’s blood, from inadequate recycling of lead-acid batteries and homes with peeling lead paint to lead-laced electronic waste dumps and food contamination due to lead-glazed pottery. 

In some developing countries with inadequate environmental regulations in place for the actual braking and smelting of lead batteries, lead levels in children are pretty high. A Global Alliance of Lead Battery Manufacturers and Recyclers urges attention to informal recycling.  The group, made up of representatives from The Battery Council International, the International Lead Association, EuroBat (The Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Recyclers) and the Association of Battery Recyclers said in a statement released on July 29, ““We want to see an end to all informal and unregulated recycling as documented by Pure Earth and UNICEF. This important report shines a spotlight on the problem, and we will continue to play our part in helping to eradicate it.”  Interstate Batteries is a member of a couple of these organizations.

In the United States and Europe, the formal recycling of lead acid batteries has been heavily regulated for many years. Interstate Batteries Recycling and other battery manufacturers and distributors collect billions of pounds of scrap lead batteries for recycling each year. The vast majority of those batteries are processed at secondary lead processors in the US, Canada and Mexico.

Those lead processors meet stringent standards limiting the lead levels being released into the environment. “To deliver the acknowledged circular economy benefits of using lead batteries it is important that only high-performing recyclers are involved,” the lead coalition statement emphasized.

As a closed-loop process, the lead battery recycling process meets stringent transportation and EPA regulated requirements, so you know your lead batteries recycled with Interstate and other battery manufacturers are being handled correctly. 

“From the collection and storage of lead batteries, to our self-imposed Green Standard battery handling process, Interstate continues to lead the industry with how scrap lead batteries are recycled,” said Tod Lyons, Sustainability Program Manager at Interstate Batteries. “We do not ship our scrap batteries overseas.” Customers who recycle their scrap lead batteries with Interstate know the batteries are being used as raw material to make new batteries and that the process follows the strict federal guidelines. 

If you are not using Interstate Batteries Recycling to recycle your lead batteries, do you know where your batteries are going?  If they are shipped offshore, it is possible, they could end up at one of the countries with inadequate or unenforced battery recycling regulations. According to the UNICEF report “Out of the 800 million children worldwide that are suffering from lead poisoning, nearly half of them are in South Asia.” One of those South Asian countries is South Korea.

In a Korean Customs report published in 2019, it shows that nearly 40 percent of the scrap and junk batteries they received are imported from countries around the world.  Of that 40 percent, about 45 percent (nearly 246,000 metric tons or more than 542 million lbs) was shipped by companies and battery brokers in the United States.

To ensure your company is not contributing to the high lead levels in children overseas where environmental regulations are not as demanding as those in the U.S., please contact Interstate Batteries Recycling at (888) 872-4001 for more information about our highly successful scrap battery recycling program. 


EDITOR'S NOTE: As we were going to press, it is with great sadness that we learned that our friend and colleague Tod Lyons has passed away of cardiac arrest on August 24. We thought it only fitting to publish this article, as well as the one on page 31, to reflect his work with Interstate Batteries Recycling in Dallas as Sustainability and Communications Manager and his overall work there for more than 11 years. His experience with environmental regulations and 20 years active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard allowed him to gain extensive knowledge of federal regulations for transporting hazardous materials, which includes regulations pertaining to proper handling of spent lead acid and other types of batteries.

     He also served on the Battery Council International’s Communications Committee and was Chairman of Lithium Battery Awareness Sub-committee educating people and businesses about lead battery sustainability and the proper handling of all types of scrap batteries.

He will be greatly missed.

tod lyons

Tod Lyons

Interstate Batteries Recycling

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