Lead as a metal has unique properties like malleability, ease of production, ease of melting & joining and high level of corrosion resistance.

As a result, it has been used for roofing, windows, piping, kitchen/tableware and ornamental uses for many centuries. However, the largest single use of lead today is in the manufacture of lead-acid storage batteries – a vital part of every automobile. Lead is also widely used in the communications industry. Around 3 million tonnes of lead are mined in the world each year. A further 3 million tonnes of lead are produced from secondary sources – by recycling scrap lead from products such as sheets, pipes and batteries. Secondary production or recycling is now widely practised and currently accounts for about 50 percent of usage worldwide. At least three-quarters of all lead used goes into products which are suitable for recycling. Thus, lead has the highest success rate for recycling among all the common non-ferrous metals.

Recycling Process → Know more

The process starts with the procurement of used lead which is sourced in bulk through a well-connected network of sectors namely telecom, road transport, railways, etc. This is followed by sorting of the material by its type and shredding by its components. And the final stages of the process include smelting & alloy.

The vital phases of production at a glance

Lead Recycling Process
Recycling & Eco-Benefits → Know more

Environmentalists and experts in the industry claim, “Secondary lead manufacturing which involves recycling and recovery of lead from various types of lead scrap, mostly from lead acid batteries is a boon to the lead industry. Today, the secondary lead supply forms 50% of the lead industry globally.” It is of greater importance when compared to primary lead manufacturing (producing lead from ore) as secondary lead manufacturing involves reclaiming of lead from lead scrap that could potentially end up in landfills, while also not depleting the natural resources (unlike the primary lead manufacturing). The industry over the years has defined several efficient processes to extract and purify/refine lead, thus comparatively the secondary lead production is more energy efficient to primary lead production. The finished product is indistinguishable from virgin lead.

The use of secondary metal undoubtedly makes important contributions to the environment. According to the International Lead Association (ILA), at present, 70 percent of lead-acid batteries are recycled and used for secondary lead production. Major environmental benefits in a nutshell:

  • Reduces depletion of natural resources.
  • Comparatively less energy consumption to primary lead production.
  • Keeps at bay the issue of lead particles in landfills.

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