How Used Lead Acid Batteries (ULABs) are Managed
ULABs are mainly managed through recycling and this is generally a worldwide trend. The recycling of ULABs is driven by the ecoenomic value asociated with the Lead content in them. In Nigeria, approximately 110,300 tons of used lead acid batties are generated annually, while approximately 96,000 tons are collected and sold annually.
Nigeria has a fairly basic but organized collection, transportation and storage system for used lead acid batteries around the country. Most used lead acid batteries are bought by informal collectors and traders of new batteries and delivered mainly to Onitsha, South East Nigeria, Kano, Ogun, Ibadan and Lagos states
The most common and efficient method for the collection of used lead acid batteries is through the battery retailer where a discount is given against the purchase price of a new battery provided the customer returns the new battery. In Nigeria, informal collection is through rag-pickes who scavenge for discarded materials that be reused or recycled.
UCLAB Recycling Value chain
Below is a summary of the role of the different types of persons and companies involved in the recycling of use lead batteries in Nigeria .
Used Battery Generators(UBGS)- are persons or organizations that produce reasonable quantities of used batteries such from automotives,alternatie energy, private companies and government organizations. The UGBs store their ULABs on their premises until they are collected by Area Waste Collectors, scrap metal scavengers, etc.
Used Battery Traders(UBTs)-are generally small, one-man operators. The traders, who are often unlicensed collect the used batteries and then sell them to Used Battery Collectors. Despite used batteries being a hazardous waste, the scrap battery dealers often transport them not taking into account any potential hazard that may arise from handling these batteries.
Used Battery Collectors(UBCs) - these persons deal in the collection of used lead batteries and hence are regarded as middleman and financiers for their collection, transportation and storage. The UBCs sell these batteries to lead smelting companies mainly in Nigeria and may sometimes export. Majority of thr UBCs are failing to transport and store the batteries in any specialized method.
Transport Providers(TPs) -are the transporters of the ULABs, to the reprocessing plants. These persons most often do not take safety measures during transportation of these batteries.
Battery Processing Plants(BPPs) -are the companies that recycle the ULAB and sell the recycled lead or produce new lead batteries in Nigeria. These plants are xposed to acid leaks when unloading and unpackin the palletized ULABs and also have to deal with significant plastic wrap and strapping wastes.
The Producer Responsibility
The Extended Producer Responsibility(EPR) program will provide effective consumer awareness, expansion of waste collection infrastructure to ensure the following:
- minimal wastre arising from these products by encouraging battery users return old batteries at the point of purchasing a new one
- treatment of waste products to meet recovery and recycling targets
- design of products to reduce material use and enhance reusability and recyclability
- documentation and data collection in the sector
- sound environmental management of ULABs in Nigeria
The ULAB Recycling Process
ULABs Receiving Bay- the bay is the area designed to recieve ULABs collected through the return system or from various industries/collectors within the country.
ULABs Processing Component -in this component the battery is broken and disintegrated into bits and pieces with a battery breaker and separated into different settling tanks based on the substance types(Polypropylene and Polyethylene) or lead for recycling or reprocessing.
Lead Smelting Component - this component involves the melting of lead scraps in furnaces under extreme heat to separate metallic lead from other substances. Hard or antimonial lead is produced as a result of this process and is packaged.
Lead Refining Component- the hard lead is further refined to remove other substances such as Copper and Tin to produce Soft lead.
Blending Component -highly specialized engineering equipments are used to produce lead alloys required in the manufacturing of various types of lead batteries