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Approximately 85% of the total lead consumption globally is for producing lead-acid batteries (LAB). This showcases a fast-growing market, especially in India. The main uses of these batteries are for storing energy generated by photovoltaic cells and wind turbines, in motorised vehicles and for backup power supplies. Indeed, recently more than half of the lead production globally can be met from lead recycling. Read on to know every aspect in detail, such as government regulations, pollution control norms, how to obtain registration to set up a lead-acid battery recycling plant in India and much more.

Lead-acid battery recycling plant - Overview

India has lead reserves of about 2.2 million tonnes which is around 2.5% of the reserves worldwide. There are approximately 500 authorised recyclers of lead scrap in India, with a total processing capacity of 2.1 million metric tonnes annually. The country's total lead consumption is approximately 1.0 million tonnes, including primary production, secondary production and imports. This definitely calls for lead-acid battery recycling.

The demand for lead acid batteries in the automotive sector resumes to dominate, while the industrial battery segment acts as a driving force. Renewable energy and e-vehicles are the impetus of the Government and plan for these are, in fact, already at the various stages of their being put into place. The demand for lead acid batteries will thus skyrocket with increased infrastructure development, vehicle production, e-bikes, new telecommunication networks, inverters etc.

The trend clearly indicates that India needs to gear up to meet the skyrocketing demand for lead in future. There are only two alternatives available to meet this demand. If seen from the perspective of cost-effectiveness and the impact on the environment, the only alternative is lead acid battery recycling to bridge the gap in the supply & demand of this metal in India.

Steps in Lead Acid Battery Recycling

Manual Processing Steps

Battery Cutting - acid battery recycling begins by cutting the tops of the batteries using Battery Cutting Machine (BCM).

Segregation - The BCM is installed so that battery parts are collected on an acid-proof segregation area after its top cutting. The PP separators, the plastic cases and the plates are segregated manually in this step.

Washing - The PP separators and the plastic cases are washed using the treated water from the Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP). The washings get accumulated into the equalisation sump of the ETP by gravity flow.

Smelting - The lead plates are sent to the furnace for smelting.

Automatic Battery Processing Steps

Breaking and Segregation - In the case of the automatic battery breaker, the entire lead acid battery (drained) gets crushed and segregated into lead metal, the washed plastic parts and lead paste.

Smelting - The lead paste and metal is fed to the smelting furnace.

Moulding - The molten lead from the furnace is put into moulds to get ingots of lead known as Re-Melted Lead (RML). The RML is then placed into refining pots to obtain refined lead. The emissions from the refining pots and smelting furnaces are directed to an Air Pollution Control System (APCS).

However, lead acid battery recycling must be conducted at regulated and adequately equipped facilities to minimise environmental contamination and lead exposure. Notably, lead acid recycling plants in India have the trained staff, requisite engineering controls, provision of protective equipment and environmental and occupational monitoring. The Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001, clearly describe norms like these and other guidelines related to the LABs.

Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001

These rules apply to every recycler involved in recycling lead-acid batteries or their components.


A battery is a lead acid battery which is a source of electrical energy and has lead metal.

A recycler is an occupier who processes used lead acid batteries (ULABs) or components thereof for extracting lead.

A registered recycler is a recycler registered with the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) or an authorised agency designated for reprocessing used lead acid batteries or components thereof.

Used batteries are damaged, used and old lead acid batteries or components thereof.

Responsibilities of recycler

1. Every lead acid battery recycler must

  • (i) apply for registration to the MoEF&CC or an authorised agency if not applied already, by submitting details in Form VI;
  • (ii) guarantee strict compliance with the terms and conditions of registration. However, those already registered with the MoEF&CC or an authorised agency for reprocessing used batteries must be bound by the terms & conditions of such registration;
  • (iii) file annual returns according to Form VII to the State Board;
  • (iv) submit all records related to the receipt of used batteries, quantities, sources, and metal yield to be filed with the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) for inspection;
  • (v) mark ‘Recycled’ on lead recovered by reprocessing; and
  • (vi) create public awareness via publications, advertisements, posters or others regarding the following–
    • (a) the obligation of consumers to return used LABs only to the registered dealers or deliver them at the designated collection centres; and
    • (b) hazards of lead.

Procedure for renewal/registration of lead-acid battery recyclers

(1) Every used lead acid batteries recycler must apply in Form VI along with the documents given belwo to the Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC or any authorised officer designated by the Ministry or an authorised agency for grant of renewal or registration. The form must be submitted in triplicate.

(2) Documents required are -

  • (a) State Pollution NOC or a copy of the valid consents (CTE and CTO);
  • (b) Hazardous Waste NOC or a copy of the valid authorisation under Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) (HWM) Rules, 1989 as amended thereof;
  • (c) Consent Validity
  • (d) DIC certificate or a copy of a valid registration certificate issued by the District Industries Centre (DIC);
  • (e) A copy of the proof of installed capacity issued by either DIC/SPCB;
  • (f) Info of installed capacity of production in (MTA);
  • (g) Details of the products manufactured (Tones/year) during the last three years;
  • (h) Details of the manufacturing process;
  • (i) Details of water consumption;
  • (j) Details of water cess paid;
  • (k) Details of wastewater generation;
  • (l) Info related to the Wastewater Treatment (please provide a flow diagram of the treatment scheme);
  • (m) Details regarding Wastewater discharge;
  • (n) Flow diagram for emission control system(s) installed for each process unit, utilities, etc;
  • (o) Details of facilities provided for control of fugitive emission due to material handling process utilities etc.;
  • (p) Details of the fuel consumption;
  • (q) Provide stack emission monitoring results vis-à-vis the standards applicable;
  • (r) Ambient air quality HWM;
  • (s) Details on Waste generation;
  • (t) Details of collection, treatment;
  • (u) Disposal (including point of final discharge);
  • (v) Provide details of the disposal facility;
  • (w) Details if facilities provided are complying with the conditions stated by the SPCB in Authorisation;
  • (x) Analysis report of characterisation of hazardous wastes produced (including leachate test if applicable)
  • (y) Details of waste proposed to be taken in import or auction, as the case may be, for use as raw material
  • (z) Details of the Occupational Safety and health aspects (OSHA)

(3) The Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC or an authorised agency by the Ministry or any authorised officer must make sure that the lead acid battery recyclers have technical capabilities, appropriate facilities and devices to recycle used batteries and dispose of hazardous waste produced;

(4) The Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC or an authorised agency by the Ministry or any authorised officer must decide on registration application within one hundred and ninety days of receiving the application with complete information;

(5) The registration granted under BWM Rules must be in force for a couple of years from the day of issue or renewal unless cancelled or suspended previously;

(6) An application for the registration renewal must be according to Form VI at least six months before its expiry. The Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC or an authorised agency by the Ministry or any authorised officer must renew the registration granted to the lead acid battery recycler under sub-rule (4) of BWM Rules, after monitoring each case on merit; The following details must be furnished according to the said form in triplicate-

  • Consent Validity
  • Validity of Authorisation in Rule 5 of the HWM Rules, 1989

(7) The Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC or an authorised agency by the Ministry or any authorised officer can, after giving a reasonable chance to the applicant of being heard, deny to grant registration;

(8) The Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC or an authorised agency by the Ministry or any authorised officer can suspend or cancel the issued registration under the BWM Rules if, in their opinion, the registered recycler has failed to adhere to any of the norms of registration, or with any provisions of the rules or Act made thereof after offering a chance to explain and after recording the reasons therefore;

(9) It must be the responsibility of the State Boards to analyse the compliance of conditions mentioned while according to registration; and

(10) An appeal must be made against any order of cancellation, suspension, or refusal of registration passed by The Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC or an authorised agency by the Ministry or any authorised officer. The appeal must be in writing, alongwith a copy of the order appealed against, and presented within thirty days of the passing of the order.

(11) The recyclers of used batteries must submit Form VII for filing returns annually by 30th June and 31st December. The following info must be furnished in the form -

  • Installed annual capacity to recycle used battery scarp (in MT)
  • The total quantity of used battery scarp purchased from/sent for processing during the period from October to March/April/September
  • Recovered amount of lead from the used battery scrap in (MTA)
  • Quantity of recycled lead sent back to Authorised/Registered Batteries Recyclers

(12) PCC/SPCB are the authorised authorities for renewal or grant of registration of lead acid battery recyclers with environmentally sound recycling facilities for recycling LABs/plates/other lead scrap/ashes and residue under HWM Rules mentioned in Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. So, the lead-acid battery recyclers also come under the preview of channelisation of used lead batteries in the provision of BWM rules 2001.

(13) The lead acid battery recyclers are granted authorisation according to the technical guidelines for environmentally sound recycling of lead-bearing wastes introduced by CPCB. SPCBs must ensure compliance with these guidelines before authorising these lead acid battery recyclers.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. How many lead-acid batteries by value are used in cars?

    According to data evaluated by the International Lead Association, about 60% of lead-acid batteries by value are used in cars.

  • 2. Where are lead-acid batteries used?

    Lead-acid batteries are also found in industrial machinery such as cranes and forklifts, as well as in e-bikes and data centers.

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