These days, many types of equipment we use run on either battery or gas. The common thing about these two elements is that you can use them until they get exhausted. When they do, it is the usual practice to refill gas or throw old batteries away and get a new one.
However, disposing of batteries could create a large portion of waste in the environment. Besides, batteries are widely-used and come with lots of harmful material. So, disposing of them may not be a great idea. A substitute for throwing your battery away is recycling them.
Unlike many other materials like plastic and paper, you might not know so much about recycling batteries. So, we have put this article together to take you through the basics of battery recycling.
In this article, we will tell you all about the process of recycling batteries and why you should consider it. Dive in!
What is Battery Recycling?
Just before getting to what is battery recycling, just what are batteries. Well, a battery is a material that contains electro-chemicals and can convert chemicals to electric usage.
Battery recycling is the reuse and reprocessing practice of batteries aimed at reducing the number of batteries being disposed of as material waste. Batteries contain several poisonous chemicals and heavy metals and their dumping has attracted environmental concerns due to contamination of water and soil. As such, batteries need recycling to comply with environmental and health benefits.
Typically, you can use a battery to supply power to different devices. These devices include phones, cars, and lamps. You can also power a house with batteries as another source of electricity supply.
Now, batteries cannot be in use forever. At some point, they get either spoilt or non-functional. And that is where battery recycling comes in.
Battery recycling involves processing waste batteries. The goal is to ensure you can re-use them rather than disposing of them. And this is very important because this reduces the number of batteries disposed of improperly.
You should know that batteries contain poisonous substances and metals. And when you regularly dispose of batteries, their components may lead to water and soil pollution.
So, it would be best if you guarded the environment against these harmful effects. Even more, with recycling, there is less need for new battery production, which contributes to the world’s material waste.
How are Batteries Recycled? (Step-by-Step Process of Battery Recycling)
By now, you already know that batteries are recyclable. It is also vital to understand how you can recycle batteries. However, before going into recycling batteries, you must understand that there are different batteries.
Batteries vary based on their components. These components include lead, lithium-ion (Li-ion), nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH), nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd), lithium-ion polymer, nickel-zinc, and alkaline. Producers make different batteries from these components. These batteries may then differ in use, power, and recycling process.
As such, while you can recycle most, it comes with different processes. Even more, you can recycle some batteries with more ease than others. Keep in mind that this sometimes depends on the value of their components and the toxic levels of the chemicals used to make them.
That said, here is the step-by-step process involved in the recycling of different batteries. Let’s go!
1. Process of Recycling Lead-Acid Batteries
Lead-Acid batteries are the earliest form of rechargeable batteries in the world. They come from a mixture of lead and sulphuric acid.
These batteries are known for their weight and low durability. Many vehicle producers use lead batteries to power automobiles.
Here is a step by step process through which you can recycle lead batteries
This process involves gathering lead batteries from disposal points. A recycling company collects these batteries at this stage.
The next step involved in recycling lead batteries is breaking them apart. At the recycling facility, recyclers use hammer mills to crush the battery into fragments.
This process involves separating the parts of a lead-acid battery. Recyclers sort the plastic and paper components of a battery from the lead and metal components. The lead and heavy metals in the battery undergo further processing afterward.
During this process, recyclers remove thermoplastics in the battery. Then, they sieve out the liquid in the battery and leave the dry lead components. The lead and heavy metals move ahead for the final step of the recycling.
On the other hand, the plastic materials removed from the battery undergo washing. The recyclers then send the thermoplastic to plastic recyclers who reprocess them. The thermoplastics are suitable materials for making casings for new batteries. Plastic manufacturers also make new plastic products from these thermoplastics.
The final step of lead-acid battery recycling involves the extraction of the lead and heavy metal components from the remains of the battery.
There are two processes involved in this step. The first process consists in using liquid solutions to recover metal from materials that contain them. On the other hand, the second process involves using high temperature to take out and refine metals.
Combining these processes, the lead and heavy metal in the battery undergoes four procedures. These procedures are calcinations (heating), roasting, smelting, and refining. The end product is molten lead. Recyclers mold the molten lead and transfer to manufacturers to make new batteries.
2. Recycling Alkaline Zinc Air /Zinc Carbon Batteries
Alkaline batteries go through a recycling process that involves dismantling the battery parts through a mechanical process. Like lead batteries and all other batteries, the first step is collecting used alkaline batteries. Then, the batteries get sorted after dismantling.
After disassembling the batteries, recyclers retrieve three parts for further processing. The pieces are steel components, plastic and paper components, and zinc and manganese components.
Then, these materials undergo processing at recycling facilities where manufacturers retrieve them to produce new products
3. Recycling Lithium Ion, Nickel Metal Hydride, Nickel-Cadmium Batteries
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are rechargeable batteries used in cars and electronics. Nickel-based batteries are also rechargeable and used in vehicles and portable devices like cameras.
These batteries share similarities in the recycling process. They also share some similarities with lead-acid batteries in the final process of recycling. Here is a detailed step by step process for recycling lithium and nickel batteries.
This is the process where recyclers collect used lithium and nickel batteries from collection points or other locations.
In this step, recyclers separate plastic materials in a battery from metal components. Both materials are perfect for making new products.
The components of lithium-ion and the nickel-based batteries undergo what is known as High-Temperature Metal Reclamation here. Metals in the batteries also undergo extraction processes. Metals like nickel, manganese, chromium, and iron are gotten in this process and are used to make new products.
4. Recycling Mercury Batteries
After collection, mercury batteries undergo recycling through liquid and heat extraction methods. Mercury batteries contain highly toxic heavy metals. Due to the presence of these toxic metals, recyclers process them in controlled extraction environments.
The mercury retrieved from the extraction procedures is useful to manufacture new mercury batteries, measuring instruments, and parts of fluorescent lights. Manufacturers may use plastic and other materials they get from the batteries to make new products.
Recycling batteries can be a challenging process. Thus, recyclers must understand the procedures for recycling different battery types. While mercury batteries are now fading out due to their highly toxic components, the rest of the battery types are still in use by manufacturers of equipment.
You should know the components of your batteries as it will allow you to use the battery correctly and put it up for recycling.
Now, you already know that collection is the first step in recycling batteries. However, how exactly should batteries get collected? Let’s find out.
Can You Put Batteries in the Recycle Bin?
The various types of batteries we have come from different materials and manufacturing methods. We have explained the process of recycling batteries. One crucial question is whether it is right to put batteries in a recycle bin.
We have spoken about the collection process involved in battery recycling. However, it is vital to differentiate between collecting batteries and disposing of them in a recycle bin. Recyclers collect batteries at collection points and not recycle bins.
Therefore, you should not put batteries in a recycling bin. The reasons are simple. Putting batteries in a recycling bin makes it possible for the heavy metals and toxic substances in the battery to wash away. These harmful substances may find their way into other objects and cause soil, water, or air pollution.
Also, it is not advisable to put batteries in recycling bins for safety reasons. Although some of these batteries are dead, putting them in a recycling bin means they end up in recycling trucks along with other materials. The components of the battery may cause a spark due to the current that the truck’s movement and the battery may produce.
So, think twice before you put that dead battery in a recycling bin. Instead, recycle appropriately by taking your battery to a collection point. That way, the recyclers will know how to process the battery and make something great out of it
Benefits of Recycling Batteries
Now that you understand how best to recycle your battery, why should you recycle them? Well, there loads of reasons why recycling is a smart choice.
Like we already stated, waste batteries can cause significant harm to our environment. And we do not want this. Well, that is why recycling is a smart choice. It allows us to protect our environment.
So, are you wondering how this happens? Here are five ways through which battery recycling benefits the environment and the world.
1. Conservation of Non-Renewable Resources
Recycling batteries makes it possible to save the raw materials that humans cannot replace. For example, recyclers conserve metals and natural resources by re-using old or waste materials. This way, other manufacturers can use the resources for further innovations.
2. Recycling Batteries Prevent Pollution
Dumping batteries improperly can cause the chemicals to wash away. The harmful chemicals may mix with the air, leach into water or the soil. Recycling batteries will prevent contact with the environment and avoid pollution.
3. Recycling Reduces Solid Waste That Ends Up In Landfills
When you recycle batteries, they can create new products. That way, they don’t have to be thrown into landfills.
4. Battery Recycling Saves Energy
Making new batteries consume lots of energy. However, when you recycle old batteries, manufacturers spend less energy. By recycling, you keep the energy used in making new batteries. Manufacturers can apply the power to other useful things.
5. Recycling Creates New Jobs
Recycling facilities need people to work through the whole process. As such, through battery recycling, more jobs are open to people.
Recycling is good for human beings and the environment. What’s more? With products like batteries, it protects us from the damage they can cause.
If you have batteries that are dead and seem useless, you should consider recycling them. You may also save the cost of buying a new battery.
Asides from helping you choose recycling batteries, this article has shed light on what goes on in the recycling process. We have also highlighted a practice you should not engage in with batteries. With these tips, you can play a part in creating a safe world when using batteries.