U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Published in Science of the Total Environment 407 (2009) 3239–3268. Doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.01.025


An evidence-based methodology was adopted in this research to establish strategies to increase lead recovery and recycling via a systematic review and critical appraisal of the published literature. In particular, the research examines pollution prevention and waste minimization practices and technologies that meet the following criteria: (a) reduce/recover/recycle the largest quantities of lead currently being disposed of as waste, (b) technically and economically viable, that is, ready to be diffused and easily transferable, and (c) strong industry interest (i.e., industry would consider implementing projects with higher payback periods). The following specific aims are designed to achieve the study objectives: Aim 1 – To describe the recycling process of recovering refined lead from scrap; Aim 2 – To document pollution prevention and waste management technologies and practices adopted by US stakeholders along the trajectory of LAB and lead product life cycle; Aim 3 – To explore improved practices and technologies which are employed by other organizations with an emphasis on the aforementioned criteria; Aim 4 – To demonstrate the economic and environmental costs and benefits of applying improved technologies and practices to existing US smelting operations; and Aim 5 – To evaluate improved environmental technologies and practices using an algorithm that integrates quantitative and qualitative criteria.

The process of identifying relevant articles and reports was documented. The description of evidence was presented for current practices and technologies used by US smelters as well as improved practices and technologies. Options for integrated environmental solutions for secondary smelters were introduced and rank ordered on the basis of costs (i.e., capital investment) and benefits (i.e., production increases, energy and flux savings, and reduction of SO2 and slag). An example was provided to demonstrate the utility of the algorithm by detailing the costs and benefits associated with different combinations of practices and technologies. The evidence-based methodology documented in this research reveals that it is technically and economically feasible to implement integrated environmental solutions to increase lead recovery and recycling among US smelters. The working example presented in this research can be confirmed with US stakeholders and form the basis for implementable solutions in the lead smelter and product industries to help reverse the overall trend of declining life-cycle recycling rates.