First U.S. Battery Recycling Facility in 20 Years Gets Green Light

Credit: Charles Williams

It's the first air permit issued in almost 20 years for a new, fully-integrated battery recycling facility in the U.S., says Johnson Controls Inc. The company secured the permit from South Carolina environmental regulators. And they did it in cooperation with local and national groups including the Coastal Conservation League and League of Women Voters of South Carolina. Here we have business and NGOs working together to foster recycling, which we all know uses less energy than making things from scratch. Did you know that more than 97 percent of all lead-acid batteries are recycled, compared to just 49 percent for aluminum soft drink and beer cans? Johnson Controls plans to spend $150 million on the center, and start production in the summer of 2012 in Florence, South Carolina.

There were disagreements along the way. Johnson Controls announced plans for the plant in June 2009. The two environmental groups appealed the air permit over concerns about emission controls. The company ended up working with the Coastal Conservation League and League of Women Voters of South Carolina to address the issues. In the end, Johnson Controls agreed to increase monitoring at the new facility in excess of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements.

"This initial investment is part of our overall strategy to add recycling capacity in the United States," Mike Carr, a vice president and general manager for Johnson Controls, said in a statement.

"This will enable us to continue to responsibly recycle our customers' spent batteries while reducing our reliance on outside suppliers."

Johnson Controls dubs itself as the global leader in closed-loop, lead-acid battery recycling (using lead from old batteries to make new batteries).

"Our ongoing efforts have helped make lead-acid automotive batteries the most recycled consumer product in the United States," company officials say.

Johnson Controls came in at No. 11 in a 2009 Newsweek Green Rankings list.

More from TreeHugger
Johnson Controls, Inc. Moves Toward Renewable Energy
Battery Recycling Catching On

Tags: Batteries | Recycling