Battery Recycling Saves The Environment

Battery recycling aims to reduce the number of batteries that are being discarded in waste dumps where they may leak acids, heavy metals and other contaminants into ground water.

The same water that circulates through the environment and that people drink.

Luckily, most types of batteries can be recycled. Trouble is, some types are easy and some are harder.

The type that cars and golf buggies use are lead-acid batteries and about 90% of these are recycled in the US.

ez battery reconditioning Battery recycling, by the way, is not the only option. You can actually recondition most batteries yourself! Even make it your business... Australia 'produces 'about 8,000 tonnes of used batteries per year, 97% of which end up on municipal waste sites. MRI Australia collects these and sends them overseas for recycling. The first Australian battery recycling plant is on the drawing board.

Besides car batteries there are alkaline and rechargeable batteries and the small silver oxide batteries you find in watches, cameras and toys.

All of these are recycled (or can be reconditioned!) to prevent hazardous materials – silver oxide batteries contain mercury – and leaking out and recover valuable components.

So what does all this have to do with alternate energy sources you ask? Well, recycling saves energy, makes some things renewable and therefore saves on greenhouse gas emissions. Thinking of life as a cycle makes for a sustainable life!

What happens in recycling of lead acid batteries?

A hammer mill breaks the battery into small pieces. All of these are placed in a large container where heavy parts fall to the bottom and plastics remain afloat. The different materials are separately recovered – plastics, lead, heavy metals – and processed separately.

The plastics are made into pellets and reused by battery casing manufacturers. All lead parts are cleaned and heated in smelting furnaces. Lead ingots are produced to be reused by battery manufacturers once again.

The car battery's sulfuric acid is neutralized and becomes water. This water is then cleaned, tested and reused as ... well, water!

Acids are converted to sodium sulfate which is used in laundry detergent, glass, and textile manufacturing. Bet you never knew you are wearing your old car batteries!

What happens in recycling alkaline batteries?Alkaline zinc/carbon and zinc/air batteries are recycled in the steel-making industry where the zinc is recovered and metal reprocessed as low-grade steel.

Nickel-cadmium battery recycling

Nickel-cadmium and lithium ion batteries are heated to very high temperatures. Nickel, iron, cobalt, manganese and chromium are recovered in molten state while zinc, lithium and cadmium separate in the heating process and are recovered as metal oxide.

Lithium battery recycling

A shredder or high-speed hammer is used to demolish these batteries and their contents submerged in caustic water. This solution neutralizes the electrolytes. Metals are recovered. Carbon is also recovered and pressed in carbon sheets. Lithium is converted to lithium carbonate. In turn this is used to make lithium ingot metal and foil for new batteries!

What to do if you need to dispose of used batteries

  • Check your local Yellow Pages for battery recyclers and reconditioners.
  • Return your battery or battery pack to the manufacturer or shop that you bought them from.
  • Contact your local council to ask how you can dispose of them

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