Circular economy

Metals are inherently permanent materials which do not lose their properties after recycling and can be recycled endlessly. The EU is a world leader in the circular economy of metals, with state-of-the-art recycling facilities able to recover over 20 metals from scrap. Lead is a key enabler of metals recycling in Europe.

Lead’s infinite role in Europe’s metal recycling industry

The carrier metal properties of lead make it an efficient and effective enabler for the recycling of a broad range of non-ferrous metals, from gallium used in mobile phones and solar panels, to precious metals including silver and gold, and even platinum used in automotive catalytic converters. Lead therefore has a pivotal role in Europe’s circular economy.

Leaded copper alloys are central to the EU circular economy

The ability to efficiently recycle copper is becoming increasingly important. Numerous copper alloys in electrical products for example, use lead to enable better engineering and machineability of the final product. Other metals can be separated easily from copper when using lead, in a process which ensures both the copper and lead are recovered and can be reused, minimising waste and returning value to the product cycle for as long as possible.

Lead batteries set the standard for Europe’s circular economy

Lead batteries themselves are a perfect exemplar of the circular economy. Almost all lead batteries are collected at end-of-life for recycling – the highest recycling rate of all battery technologies. The average lead battery made in the EU today contains more than 80% recycled materials.


Lead Matters is a collaborative campaign which showcases the essentiality of lead metal across Europe. Developed by the Lead (Pb) REACH Consortium, a voluntary initiative managed by the International Lead Association (ILA), it supports over 40 sectors in highlighting the vital, safe and sustainable use of lead in their industries.