Around half of all zinc is used to galvanise steel, an environmentally friendly way of protecting against corrosion. Zinc is also used to make die-cast alloys, brass and zinc oxides and chemicals. About 50% of the 11 million tonnes of zinc produced annually is used for galvanising to protect steel from corrosion. Another 34% goes to brass and alloys.

Zinc is used in a variety of items that improve our everyday lives:

  • roofs, gutters, down-pipes and fences on houses
  • the bodies of the cars we drive
  • batteries for toys, calculators, watches as well as electric powered vehicles
  • fertilizers to help our gardens grow
  • vitamin supplements for better health.


Lead has been used by humans for a variety of purposes for more than 5,000 years.

Over time, as we've better understood the risks to people and the environment, how lead is used has also changed.

Today, lead is used as a pure metal, alloyed with other metals, or as a chemical compound.

Its principal use is in lead-acid storage batteries, which provide critical stand-by power for hospitals and telecommunications systems, as well as energy storage for wind and solar energy systems and hybrid-electric vehicles.