Since launching in 1977, KC Recycling has grown to become the largest lead battery recycler in Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The Trail, British Columbia-based company also recycles electronics and cathode ray tube (CRT) glass and sells all the high-quality materials generated by its operations including aluminum, copper, plastic, and steel.
KC Recycling is working to recycle more lead batteries and more plastic from those batteries. “Right now, there’s limited capacity to recycle these materials in the Pacific Northwest; that’s the challenge we want to tackle,” says Pete Stamper, CEO. “We know that as we continue to expand our capabilities, there’s plenty of batteries to recycle so we can continue to provide high-quality products to customers.”
As a leader in the lead battery recycling arena, the company is contracted by battery manufacturers to recycle end-of-life batteries and send back high-quality materials the manufacturers can use to create new batteries. KC Recycling has been doing this cycle seamlessly for years. Now, in partnership with battery maker East Penn Manufacturing, KC Recycling is working to recycle even more materials more efficiently.
Thanks in part to a grant awarded by the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund, KC Recycling invested in a new plastics recycling plant that can process plastic casings of lead batteries and polypropylene pellets that can be used to manufacture new car battery casings.
“Thanks to the new plant, we’re able to pelletize the plastic and turn it into a high-quality resin to send to East Penn,” Stamper says. “One of the best reuses for this material is to send it back to the original manufacturers so they can make new products using the recycled material.”
After completing the plant, KC Recycling ran a series of tests on the materials to ensure they met East Penn’s rigorous quality standards. “As an automotive supplier, East Penn needs high-quality products,” Stamper explains. “Through these tests, we demonstrated that we could be a source of those products.”
After qualifying, KC Recycling began shipping materials to East Penn’s plant in Corydon, Iowa. “East Penn has expanded into Iowa, and there’s a big demand for plastics in the new facility, so we’re supplying our products for their molding line,” Stamper says.
In addition to new battery casings for cars, high-quality material from KC Recycling’s plastic plant can be used for a variety of applications. “Lead batteries have a variety of uses beyond cars,” Stamper says. “They store power for everything from solar panels and windmills to forklifts. Our material can also be used by companies making agricultural pots, which are made regionally for growing crop starts, as well as by companies that make paint buckets and industrial plastic sheets. We see a lot of opportunity to keep this material in the Pacific Northwest.”
KC Recycling is excited to see the growing investment and momentum toward battery and plastics recycling. When Stamper joined the company four years ago, he wanted to hold tours for elected officials and the public to help shed light on the positive impact of recyclers in the community. “I wanted to help change the mentality and the misconceptions the public, regulators, and elected officials may have about our industry,” he says. George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy of British Columbia and local Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly (MLA) Brittny Anderson were the first visitors.
The tours have only continued to grow. “[Lawmakers] come here because their constituents want to know how we’re working to solve problems and recycle more materials more efficiently,” Stamper says. “It’s a real commitment for legislators because our facility is eight hours from Vancouver, but they come out because they want to see our work and we’re excited to show them.”
Photos Courtesy of KC Recycling.