How much is lead worth?
It’s impossible to answer accurately the question ‘how much for scrap car batteries?’ The main value is the lead contained in the battery. The scrap metal value of lead is usually quite high, though like all metal prices values can go down as well as up in any month.
How batteries are recycled
It’s illegal to dump old batteries as they contain harmful substances. Battery acid can cause blindness and lead is very harmful to health. The most efficient way of dealing with old batteries is to have them recycled.
A recycler breaks up the battery into small pieces using a hammer mill then places them in a liquid vat where the lead and other heavy metals sink to the bottom and the plastic floats on the surface. The plastic is washed and dried and then sent to a plastic recycler, who reduces the plastic to pellets that can be used in manufacturing new battery cases.
The lead is cleaned then heated in a smelting furnace. It is poured into moulds where the impurities float to the top and are scraped off. The lead ingots are removed from the moulds ready to be made into new batteries.
The battery acid is neutralized with a compound that resembles baking soda to make it less harmful. The acid is converted into a white colourless powder that is used in glassmaking, textile manufacturing and laundry detergents.
Around 98 per cent of the materials in a car battery can be recycled, which makes a car battery a closed-loop item.
Electric car batteries are usually lithium-ion designs and they can also be recycled. The copper and steel can be stripped from them and recycled to make new metals that can be used in new electric car batteries. There are no lithium-ion recycling plants in the UK, but they can be recycled in Belgium.
Where to sell scrap car batteries
If you have a new battery fitted at a garage or by a mechanic at a car parts seller, they will take care of disposing of the old battery. You won’t get paid for this, but the fitting of the new battery may be free.
If you fit your own battery, you’re responsible for the disposal of the old one. Don’t throw it away or dump it with your household rubbish as this is both dangerous and illegal.
Search the internet for scrapyards to quote you a price for the battery. You could get a figure of around five pounds for it, but you’ll usually be responsible for taking the old battery to them.
Some people sell old batteries on Gumtree, eBay and other sites, though batteries sold in this way should be collected as it can be expensive and dangerous to send them by a courier service.
Some councils will accept scrap car batteries at their recycling centres, but they don’t pay money for them.
If the car is being scrapped, don’t be tempted to remove the battery first as you’ll receive less money for the car.
Helping the environment
Making sure that a scrap battery is recycled isn’t just about how much money you can get; it is also about protecting the environment from toxic materials. The UK has a good record for recycling car batteries, but in some developing countries, there are no recycling programmes - making old car batteries a serious environmental concern.