1       Introduction

The members of the Canadian Battery Association (CBA) has developed a Stewardship Program that recovers and recycles all lead batteries from coast to coast to coast.  The following document and its Appendices outlines the CBA’s Stewardship policies, their implementation and metrics across Canada.

1.1       Regulatory Requirements

In addition to a variety of Provincial Extended Producers Responsibility regulations for lead batteries, all aspects of the manufacturing, transportation, storage and recycling of lead batteries are governed by a variety of Federal and Provincial regulations.

The Federal Acts and Regulations focus primarily on the movement of Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Wastes.  The primary Federal Acts are:

  • The Canadian Environmental Protection Act and its regulations;
  • The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act;

There are also a variety of Provincial Acts and Regulations that related to the management of hazardous wastes.  Please contact the CBA at admin@canadianbatteryassociation.ca if you would like more information on the different Provincial regulations and approvals.

1.2    Lead Battery Use in Canada

Lead batteries are important in the daily lives e used to:

  • Start our internal combustion engines such as vehicles, buses, boats, recreational vehicles, trucks etc.
  • Provide UPS solutions for computers, telecommunication systems, safety systems (e.g., emergency lighting, fire alarms), data centres and alternative energy applications;
  • Provide motive power for forklifts, scooters and carts;

Lead batteries range in size from less than 1 kg in small medical and emergency systems to 17.5 kg in an average passenger battery to thousands of kilograms in commercial applications like forklifts and emergency backup systems for data centres or alternative energy applications.

Because of the wide range of applications, the stewardship program focuses on the following 3 categories of lead batteries:

Category Size (kg) Typical Application
Consumer Batteries 5 – 35

–          Starting Internal Combustion engines in vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, boats etc

–          Auxiliary batteries in EV vehicles

Commercial Batteries 1 – 50,00

–          Emergency back-up including Small Sealed Lead Acid (SSLA) batteries

–          electric forklifts, golf carts,

–          grid and power supply batteries

The average life span of a lead battery varies depending on their design, application and maintenance.  Vehicle and commercial truck batteries are designed to last approximately 60 months.  Motive batteries (e.g., used in forklifts, golf carts) are a different design and are expected to last 7 years while Stationary batteries that typically serve as emergency or reserve power are much larger and can last for more than 20 years.

Approximately, 85% of lead batteries sold in Canada are consumer batteries for vehicle and commercial truck applications.  The remaining 15% are for motive and stationary applications.

1.3    Population Distribution in Canada

One of the key challenges of a Stewardship Program is to provide accessibility to the consumer – especially in rural and remote communities.

The population of Canada in 2017 according to Statistics Canada was 37 million people.  Approximately 88% of the population live in cities, towns or Regional Municipalities with a population greater than 1,000 people.

One of the challenges of a product stewardship program will be providing recovery services to the small communities in the outlining areas of a Province and the CBA has developed an Accessibility Policy that defines service for consumer lead batteries.

2       Program Administration

2.1    The Canadian Battery Association

The Canadian Battery Association (CBA) is a Federally-registered Not-for-Profit Industry Association.  The CBA’s Registration number with Industry Canada is 759912-9.

In 2022, the CBA members accounts for more than 95% of the lead battery distribution and sales in Canada and virtually 100% of the lead processing. 

As an Industry Association, the CBA does more than Stewardship programs and the CBA works on other National and International initiatives with the Canadian Standards Association, Underwriters Laboratories Canada, Battery Council International, Eurobatt and the International Lead Association.

The members of CBA are listed on the http://canadianbatteryassociation.ca/index.php/about-the-cba/members/members .  The CBA membership includes national and regional distributors, smelters and recyclers that are signatories to the CBA’s Stewardship Plan.  Businesses that are not members of the CBA but are registered as signatories to the CBA’s Stewardship Plan are listed at http://canadianbatteryassociation.ca/index.php/about-the-cba/members/registrations

Retailers of lead batteries that obtain their wholesale batteries from members of the CBA are not required to register with the CBA’s Stewardship Program because their National distributors have assumed their stewardship obligations on their behalf.  However, importers of products into Canada that contain a lead battery (e.g., vehicles, motorcycles, boats, etc.) are obligated under the various Extended Producer Responsibility regulations.

2.2    Program Goals, Objectives and Principles

The goals of the Canadian Battery Association’s Stewardship Program are: 

  • Provide a program that is convenience to consumers, retailers and customers of lead batteries;
  • Provide a National stewardship program that meets the regulatory requirements of individual provinces and the Federal Government;
  • Promote the safe recovery, storage and transportation of new, used and waste lead batteries.

The principles of the CBA Stewardship Program are:

  • Integrate the Stewardship Program into the recycling initiatives of CBA members where possible;
  • Develop solutions that can be implemented across Canada;
  • Do not interfere with the free market for the sale and collection of new, used or waste lead batteries;
  • Use reverse-distribution systems to minimize transportation costs and ecological footprints;
  • Develop solutions that meet corporate, social, environmental and economic goals of its members and regulatory agencies;

2.3    Organization Structure and Governance in BC

The CBA is managed across Canada by its Executive Director.  The Executive Director is responsible for the preparation and implementation of the Stewardship Plan, the administration of the CBA and projects with other agencies representing lead-acid battery manufacturers.

The administrative and implementation functions of the CBA include:

  • development and updating of the CBA’s Stewardship Plan;
  • preparing reports for regulatory agencies, Board of Directors and stakeholders;
  • preparing the communication materials for distribution;
  • overseeing budgets and developing strategies and actions designed to meet Performance Measures (see Section 6).
  • undertaking stakeholder consultation and managing the BC Steering Committee;
  • assisting CBA members to meet all Federal and Provincial regulatory requirements for the safe collection, storage and transportation of lead batteries;
  • resolving disputes and investigating complaints;

The CBA has a simple governance model.  The Executive Director provides all the management and operational programs for the CBA.  The CBA’s Board of Directors oversees the Executive Director and is comprised of the members that represent manufacturers, distributors and smelters in Canada.  For a list of the current Board of Directors go to http://canadianbatteryassociation.ca/index.php/about-the-cba/members/board

2.4    Accountability and Transparency

The CBA provides accountability and transparency through a variety of mechanisms.  The primary mechanism is the Financial and Non-Financial Audit of the Stewardship Program.  These audits are published on the CBA website and are available to the public.

In addition, the CBA has become an active supporter of the Recycling Council of BC (RCBC) and the Stewardship Agencies of BC (SABC).  In addition, the CBA participates in conferences, forums and recycling programs that further the awareness of the CBA and the recycling of lead batteries.

In addition, the CBA website (www.canadianbatteryassociation/bc.ca) will include sections that are dedicated to:

  • Overview of Provincial Stewardship Programs including current recovery rates, health and safety information, location of battery recycling depots;
  • Administrative information including financial information and the Stewardship Plan in downloadable format;
  • The environmental story for lead acid batteries including the fate of lead-acid batteries, electrolyte and plastic;
  • Forms and procedures for CBA members; and,
  • Contact information.

2.5    Financing Mechanism

The development, implementation and administration of the CBA’s Stewardship Program for Lead Batteries will be borne by the members of the CBA through annual fees.   

The membership fee will be set to cover the costs of the Stewardship Program and a contingency budget is available for extraordinary circumstances. The membership fees will be reviewed each year and approved at the CBA’s Annual General Meeting.

The CBA will maintain a Contingency Fund that will grow over the years to approximately one year’s operating budget.

Consumers will not be charged an eco-fee at the retail level.  Eco-fees are not required because the demand for recycled lead provides sufficient value for Stewards in British Columbia to collect, transport and recycle lead batteries in urban and rural parts of British Columbia. 

The current commodity price of lead is $2 per kg on the London Metal Exchange.  An average vehicle battery weighing 17kg has approximately 9kg of lead valued at close to $18 per battery.  Because automotive lead batteries have a 5-year life expectancy, there is a significant demand for new automotive batteries and this demand drives the commodity value for recycled lead.

Because of the significant commodity value of lead, there is an active industry of secondary lead recyclers that pursue the collection and recycling of lead batteries. 

To compete with independent lead recyclers, some CBA members employ several strategies to ensure the collection of LABs.  The strategies used include:

  • implementing a business-to-business core charge (deposit) / core credit programs at the wholesale level to encourage the return of LABs from the retailer to the manufacturer. Typically, the core charges / core credits programs are $15 to $20 per automotive battery with greater amounts for larger battery sizes and they are a business-to-business program that is not passed on to the consumer;
  • purchasing lead batteries from private recyclers and commercial operations;
  • organizing special collection of lead batteries through sweeps and events that promote recycling activities.

3       Product Life Cycle

3.1    Product Life Cycle Management

This section summarizes the fate of the products, residuals and commodities.  Lead-acid battery technology has been around for 150 years and its three basic components are all 100% recyclable.  The following sections outline the fate of the lead-acid batteries and the numbers are taken from Battery Council International’s brochure titled:  Sustainability/Recycling.

3.1.1                    Lead

The primary component of a LAB is lead and the recycling of lead batteries is essential for the battery industry as there is not sufficient virgin lead to supply the lead battery market.

Each cell of a lead battery contains electrodes of elemental lead (Pb) and (PbO2).  Small amounts of antimony, tin, calcium or selenium are usually alloyed in the electrode to add strength and simplify manufacture.  The lead electrodes, battery posts and lead oxide are used to manufacturer lead for new grids, parts and lead oxide.

The recovered lead is separated and put through a Reverb Furnace.  The furnace recovers a high percentage of the lead and the slag is considered hazardous waste because of the high residual lead content.  The slag from the Reverb Furnace is sent to a blast furnace and the lead is extracted.  Once the lead has been recovered by the blast furnace, the remaining “slag” is non-hazardous waste and can be safely disposed of in landfills.

3.1.2    Electrolyte

Sulphuric acid is the electrolyte within the battery.  The dilute sulphuric acid recovered from the end-of-life lead battery is reused and recycled in a variety of processes:

  1. Filtered and used on site: Acid is drained from the used batteries and filtered to remove any particles.  This filtered acid is then used in the Waste Water Treatment Facility at the smelter.
  2. Crystallized: Acid is put through a Crystallizer and in the process turned into Sodium Sulphate.  The Sodium Sulphate is sold to manufacturers of glass, detergents etc.
  3. Sold to Third Parties: The drained Acid is sold without any recycling or refining, to third parties.  For example, to Tanneries.
  4. Neutralized: The Acid is neutralized using Caustic Soda into a Non-hazardous waste that can be disposed of safely.
  5. New Filter Process – (Experimental): The drained Acid can be filtered using a new process whereby the Acid can be re-used in the manufacture of new batteries.

3.1.3    Casings

The smaller SLA and transport batteries have a plastic casing while the larger industrial and commercial batteries have steel casings.

Both the plastic and steel casings are recovered and recycled into new cases for lead-acid batteries.

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