Lead-based batteries can be a part of the solution to the sustainability challenges society faces, according to the International Lead Association (ILA).

In a paper in the current issue of the prestigious International Journal of Metallurgy, ILA sets out the benefits and environmental sustainability credentials that lead and lead batteries bring to society.

Lead-based batteries, the major application for lead, are essential, sustainable and innovative and this paper outlines the current evidence for this.

Lead batteries make a vital contribution to society and are used to power virtually all cars, trucks, buses, motorbikes, electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, while they are a the mainstay of global storage technologies for renewable energy sources, such as solar cell and wind turbines.

The paper uses the results of three lifecycle analysis (LCA) studies, two commissioned by ILA, to describe the environmental footprint of lead production and that of the lead-based battery (representing over 90% of refined lead use). Evidence is provided that demonstrates that the 99% collection and recycling rate of lead based batteries in the industrialised world plays a significant role in reducing the environmental impact of this product.

The data presented also illustrates that use of advanced technology lead batteries in start-stop and micro-hybrid applications results in significant environmental benefits in terms of reduced C02 emissions over the lifetime of a vehicle that dwarfs battery manufacturing lifecycle impacts.

ILA Director of Regulatory Affairs, Dr Steve Binks, said: “This paper represents the most comprehensive overview available of the sustainability credentials of lead and lead batteries and provides evidence of the significant benefits that lead-based technologies bring to society.

“The article also makes clear that the lead battery industry must continue to innovate to deliver products that meet changing customer needs and that all players in the value chain of lead-based products must put sound chemical management and responsible care at the centre of their business strategies.”


Notes to editors

About ILA

The International Lead Association is the trusted global trade association for the lead industry and its member companies are at the forefront of the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tonnes of lead. The association is working towards a vision of a sustainable global lead industry that is recognised for the positive contribution it makes to society.

ILA takes a leadership role in promoting responsible care and educating society about the benefits of lead for today’s and future generations. Recent studies have shown that lead-based batteries achieve a recycling rate of 99% in the EU and USA.

With offices in the UK and USA, ILA provides a range of technical, scientific and communications support for member companies, downstream users and the wider lead industry. ILA also supports the development of lead-based batteries through the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium which manages the research, development and promotion of lead batteries for markets such as hybrid electric vehicles, start-stop automotive systems and grid-scale energy storage applications.www.ila-lead.org