Industry Group Says Global Lead Demand Will Grow by 5 Percent

International Lead Zinc Study Group also sees demand in U.S. increasing by 7.6 percent for the year.

October 29, 2013
Recycling Today Staff

During the recently concluded London Metals Exchange Week, the International Lead Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) released information noting that global demand for lead is expected to increase 5 percent in 2013 and grow by an additional 4.6 percent in 2014. Additionally, lead demand in the United States is expected to increase by 7.6 percent in 2013, bolstered by original equipment purchases of new vehicles and replacement purchases of lead-acid batteries.

In 2014, forecasts for lead in the United States show a modest increase of 1.5 percent, although ILZSG notes that that figure could rise if General Motors relies on lead-acid batteries for its 2014 Malibu Hybrid. The study group says that the vehicle will no longer carry lithium-ion batteries.

In a release, the ILZSG notes that recent lead-acid battery optimism is reinforced by the fact that other battery technologies have yet to reach the high recycling rate of lead-acid options in the United States; 98 percent of spent lead-acid batteries are collected and returned to permitted recyclers, which recycle both lead and plastic, keeping 2.4 million tons of batteries out of landfills.

"The global demand for lead is very strong," says Andy Bush, International Lead Association’s (ILA) managing director. "Lead's credentials as the most recycled of all major metals, coupled with its easy availability, make lead one of the most sustainable materials in the modern world."

"Lead-based batteries that effectively operate in a closed loop-commercial considerations drive the collection of used batteries, and efficient recycling puts the vast majority of the components back into use," says Alistair Davidson, ILA's technical manager, who recently presented a study on the future of lead to ILZSG. "As a result, lead is a fantastic example of the circular economy in action—something that policy makers around the world increasingly recognize as being necessary to address negative environmental and social impacts associated with raw material extraction and production."