Recycling and Environmental

Lead, Zinc and the Environment

Metals are naturally occurring substances present in trace amounts in food, water, soil and air. People have always been exposed to them, but exposure can be increased due to industrial activity and/or use of metals in certain consumer products. Concerns over subtle health effects associated with low-level lead exposure in the general population have stimulated successful lead exposure reduction efforts in many countries. General population exposures in these countries are now largely below national “levels of concern”.


Historically, high-level occupational exposure to metals caused adverse clinical health effects. As a result, modern exposure standards have been devised to protect the health of workers. Currently, high level exposures and adverse clinical effects in the general population are largely associated with past product applications (e.g. lead based paint), traditional practices (such as folk remedies) or illicit applications such as lead in toys or costume jewellery that may be swallowed by children. The phase-out of these applications, combined with abatement of environmental exposure sources and increased enforcement of existing regulations, have made lead poisoning rare.


The ILZSG periodically updates its environmental publications “Environmental and Health Controls on Lead” and “Environmental and Health Controls on Zinc”. These publications are then made available at no charge. The secretariat also publishes Insight Reports on environmental and other topics. 


The ILZSG’s Economic and Environment Committee follows all environmental aspects relevant to lead and zinc mines and smelters and end uses. This entails:

  • Monitoring of environmental issues
  • Informing Study Group member countries on particular issues relating to:
    • ecotoxicity
    • transboundary movements of waste
    • transboundary air pollution
    • international co-ordination of activities on chemicals


Recycling Rate Definitions

The ILZSG was one of the founder members of the Metal Study Groups/Eurometaux/Eurofer Recycling Project Team. Other organisations that participated in the work of the Team include The European Aluminium Association, the International Zinc Association, the Nickel Institute, the European Nickel Group, the International Council on Mining and Metals, the International Wrought Copper Council, the European Copper Institute, the Organisation of European Aluminium Refiners and Remelters, the International Lead Association and Yale University.


The main aim of this collaboration was the development of a set of clear and consistent recycling rates for the metals industry and the agreement of a broad methodology for calculating the rates.


The rates that were agreed by the Team are as follows:


Recycling Input Rate  =  Metal Recycled (from EOL Scrap)

      Metal Produced


EOL Recycling Rate   =  Metal Recycled (from EOL Scrap)

     Metal Available for Recycling (EOL Scrap)


EOL Collection Rate  =  Metal Collected (EOL Scrap)

      Metal Available for Recycling (EOL Scrap)


EOL Processing Rate  =  Metal Recycled (from EOL Scrap)

      Metal Collected (EOL Scrap)


EOL   =   End of Life             The Recycling Input Rate is also known as Recycled Content


For further information on the above rates please contact the Secretariat.