What Happens to Recycled Batteries?

 

Facts About Rechargeable BatteriesIn 1996, the Battery Act was signed into federal law to address two fundamental issues: to phase out the use of mercury in rechargeable batteries and to provide collection methods and recycling or proper disposal of rechargeable batteries. Since then, recycling rates have steadily increased.

Batteries should be recycled whenever possible even though alkaline batteries may be disposed of in the trash in many states. Improperly disposed batteries can pollute water sources, leach from solid waste landfills, cause burns or danger to eyes and skin and expose the environment to hazardous lead and acid.

Each year, Americans throw out almost 180,000 tons of batteries. About 14,000 of those tons are rechargeable batteries; the rest are single-use. If we start replacing single-use batteries with rechargeables, we save money and ensure that fewer batteries end up in landfills. Once rechargeable batteries reach the end of their usable lifethey  be recycled at no cost to the consumer, ensuring the proper disposal of toxic chemicals often used in these batteries.


Rechargeable batteries go through a series of steps to be recycled.

  1. COLLECTION

    Batteries are collected for processing at a recycling facility.

    Because there are several different types of rechargeable batteries, there are different ways that they get collected. Cylindrical sized batteries are often collected through normal city recycling efforts. Batteries used in cell phones can be mailed in or dropped off at specialized locations or through take-back program such as Call2Recycle. Other batteries can be collected at special recycling drives, returned to the manufacturer if included with electronics, exchanged for a new unit (lead-acid car batteries) or taken to a Hazardous Waste Disposal facility.

  2. PROCESSING

    The collected batteries are dismantled.

    At the recycling facility, batteries are taken apart and subjected to different processes depending on the battery type.

  3. SEPARATION

    Batteries are separated into different streams based on chemistry.

    Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), and Nickel Zinc (Ni-Zn) are treated in a high temperature process that allows for the recovery and reuse of metals. Nickel and cobalt are removed from Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries, and lead is recovered from almost all batteries in the U.S.

     

  4. REUSE

    The reusable materials from the batteries are recycled.

    Most of the reusable material from rechargeable batteries goes into making new batteries or stainless steel products. Plastic is often washed, dried, melted and palletized. The plastic is reused to make battery cases when possible. Metals, including lead, are smelted, cooled and molded into parts for new batteries.

  5. DISPOSAL

    Materials that can't be reused are disposed of properly.

    Acids and other hazardous chemicals within batteries are neutralized and either released into the public sewer system or are converted into sodium sulfate that can be recycled into laundry detergent, glass or textile manufacturing.

Facts About Rechargeable Batteries

100: Minimum amount of single-use batteries that are saved by substituting rechargeable batteries.

20: Percentage of dry-cell batteries purchased by Americans that is rechargeable batteries.

1996: The year the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act was passed.

97: Percentage of battery lead in wet and dry cell batteries, including automotive batteries that get recycled.

80: Percentage of rechargeable batteries that are made of nickel and cadmium (NiCd).

1000: The number of times that most rechargeable batteries can be recharged.

 

 

 

Source of Information:

http://earth911.com/recycling/hazardous/rechargeable-batteries/how-rechargeable-batteries-are-recycled/

 

 

 

 

 



 


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