Lead is used in a number of products but only accounts for only a small part of the waste stream. However this metal is highly toxic to animals and humans and is classified as a hazardous waste. Due to it toxicity lead should not be placed in landfill where it could contaminate groundwater. Recycling lead helps protect the environment from the toxic metal and it also uses only about 30% of the energy required for refining primary ore, resulting in major energy savings and fewer carbon emissions.
Lead enjoys one of the highest recycling rates of all materials in common use today. Lead-based products are easily identifiable and economic to collect and recycle. As a result, over half of the lead produced and used each year throughout the world has been used before in other products. What is more, because lead is a naturally occurring element, the quality of the recycled lead is identical to that of primary metal from mining.
About 90% of the lead scrap produced in Australia arises from lead-acid batteries in vehicles. A further 6% of lead is used in the form of lead sheet by the building industry. Together with a number of other smaller volume metallic applications such as radiation shielding, cable sheathing and various specialised applications, such as earthquake dampers, this means that about 90% of all lead is used in readily recyclable products – and almost all of it is recycled.
It’s therefore not surprising that recycling is a very attractive option for everyone, and a valuable contribution to a green environment.