Table Of Contents
The Short Answer: Yes, They Are!
The more the world is growing in terms of technology, the more we learn to save and store things. From plastic to batteries, everything is essential. However, their lifetime is always finite, so they cannot be kept around forever. But you do not need to dispose of them immediately as you can help the world by contributing your spent plastic and batteries for recycling. Yes, batteries are recyclable too.
However, unlike plastic, batteries are not simple inventions. They can be dangerous due to the contents that they are composed of. So, the disposal of batteries just anywhere is not an option because one, it would take up a lot of space, and two, it would cause an uncertain risk of explosions.
Knowledge about the afterlife of batteries is not common. Do you want to throw away your batteries? If yes, then where? Or do you think you should recycle batteries? If yes, then how? You, of course, may not have the answers to all this. That’s why we have assembled this article to provide you with all the information you need about recycling batteries. Sit back and enjoy!
What Is Battery Recycling And Why Is It Necessary?
Battery recycling simply refers to the practice of reusing and reprocessing spent batteries. The primary purpose of this practice is to stop the disposal of batteries as material waste because they have hazardous contents which are dangerous to the environment. They contain things like heavy metals and poisonous chemicals, which can harm the surroundings in more ways than one.
So, to protect the habitat and health of life on earth, batteries need recycling. You can store and supply energy to whichever device you think is good and appropriate. But sooner or later, the battery will not be functional because its power is finite. However, its contents can still be of use. That is where battery recycling comes to the rescue.
Types Of Recyclable Batteries And Their Recycling Procedures
Different kinds of batteries are composed of different materials. Therefore, each battery has its own usage, power, and recycling method based on its composition. If a battery is recycled with a process of another, it may result in dangerous explosions. For example, some can be recycled relatively quickly compared to others. This is due to differences in the values of components and the level of poisonous chemicals used in manufacturing.
So, you need to be thoroughly aware of the composition of each typical battery or rechargeable battery before the process of recycling begins. Read on to find out how different types of old batteries are recovered and renewed.
Recycling Lead-Acid Batteries
The most primitive forms of rechargeable batteries in the world are Lead-Acid batteries. They are composed of lead and sulphuric acid combined. These batteries are known for their infamous weight and low resilience. And that is why some vehicle producers prefer using these for their automobiles.
You need to know and follow various steps to recycle lead-acid batteries, as mentioned and explained below.
Step One: Collection
The first step into the recycling process is to collect these batteries from wherever they are disposed of. It is usually the recycling company that does this looking around and collecting.
Step Two: Crushing
Once the collection is over, lead batteries are then brought to the breaking step. They are crushed and broken apart using different tools. Recyclers at recycling companies work with hammer mills to crush the batteries completely and turn them into pieces.
Step Three: Sorting
The sorting step simply implies dividing the different fragments of the lead-acid batteries. It is the task of recyclers to separate the other contents from lead and metal contents. The reason for the inclusion of this step is that these lead and heavy metal components that are sorted out will be placed for further processing later on.
Step Four: Sieving
This step involves the extraction of all the thermoplastics in the battery. The recyclers withdraw all the liquid within the battery and leave out the remaining components to dry off. They send these dry lead and heavy metals further ahead for the final step of the recycling process.
Meanwhile, the plastic contents extracted from the battery go through the process of washing. Then, the recyclers pass them off to plastic recycling sources, where the thermoplastic is reprocessed further. These thermoplastics are fit for making casings for new batteries. Plastic producers also use these to make new products, which are totally fine and usable.
Step Five: Extraction
The final step of the process of recycling a lead-acid battery is extracting the lead and heavy metal contents present in the battery. This step includes two parts, both of which are necessary to retrieve the metal components. The first part uses liquid solutions to retrieve the metal stuck in materials within the battery.
In contrast, in the second part, there is the use of high temperatures to recover and refine metal from the battery. The combination of these two parts concludes in a total of four procedures that the lead and heavy metal batteries have to undergo. The four procedures that take place include heating, roasting, smelting, and refining.
The end product of this whole process becomes the molten lead. Once the recyclers get this lead material, they mould it and send it to manufacturers, who use it to produce new batteries.
Recycling Alkaline Zinc Air or Zinc Carbon Batteries
Like all the other batteries, the first step in recycling alkaline batteries is the collection of spent and non-functional batteries of this type. The next step involves the use of a mechanical process to disassemble the different parts of batteries. Once that is done, the recyclers sort out and recover three components which are processed further.
These three components include paper and plastic contents, steel products, and zinc and manganese contents. Next, all these substances are sent to the recycling companies. They undergo further processing, and finally, the recyclers sort them for the production of new products.
Recycling Lithium Ion, Nickel Metal Hydride, and Nickel Cadmium Batteries
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are widely used in electronics and cars, whereas nickel-based batteries are more in use for vehicles as well as portable devices such as cameras. The common thing about batteries is that all of them have almost similar recycling processes. The details of the steps of the recycling process for these lithium and nickel batteries are given below.
Step One: Collection
This is the first step of the recycling process where recyclers gather non-functional lithium-ion and nickel batteries from disposal points.
Step Two: Sorting
This step is when the recyclers divide materials according to their nature. They separate the plastic components from the metal components of the battery. Both of these materials are fit for manufacturing new products in their respective industries.
Step Three: Smelting
During this step, the components of lithium-ion and nickel batteries go through the process of 'High-Temperature Metal Reclamation.' All the metals in the batteries go through extraction procedures.
The end products are metals like nickel, chromium, iron, and manganese. Once finally retrieved, these metals are then processed to manufacture new products.
Recycling Mercury Batteries
The recycling process of mercury batteries starts with collecting used and non-functional mercury batteries. Once that is dealt with, different liquid and heat extraction methods are used to retrieve the necessary components. Mercury batteries are composed of very toxic and dangerous chemicals and metals.
Due to this reason, recyclers make sure to go with their recycling procedure within the boundaries of a controlled extraction environment. After the extraction process is over, the mercury recovered as an end product is helpful for several things. It can be used to manufacture new batteries, parts of fluorescent lights, and different measuring instruments.
Mercury batteries are losing their use because of the toxic contents and chemicals used in their composition. However, all the other batteries are still widely used for all the purposes that they tend to.
Benefits Of Recycling Batteries
Now you know that batteries are recyclable, and also all about the processes with which they are recycled. But do you know the benefits that battery recycling brings? Well, read on and update yourself on this.
• The most important benefit is that it reduces the garbage in the environment. It helps waste management deal with fewer material dumps and saves the world from soil, air, and water pollution.
• Battery recycling protects the environment from the potential danger of carelessly throwing around used batteries. As already mentioned, they are composed of different components, most of which are toxic. When people leave spent batteries in recycle bins or just throw them anywhere, their toxic contents may or may not cause deadly explosions. Recycling them is the best solution to all this risky business.
• This entire process also helps conserve renewable resources as it involves the extraction of irreplaceable raw materials such as metals and other natural resources. The process of recycling batteries has introduced the technique of reusing spent and non-functional batteries, which serves as a tool for the conservation of resources.
• Producing new batteries requires a lot of energy, utilities, and investment. However, recycling solves this issue by making new batteries and saving lots of recyclers' energy which they can use for several other things instead.
• Another reason recycling is good and reliable is that it decreases overall expenses in producing batteries. Manufacturing new batteries is an expensive business requiring various high-quality raw materials. But through this process, such costly materials can be extracted from used batteries and reused in the manufacturing process of new ones. This saves resources and reduces the cost as well.
• The process of recycling is beneficial for the job industry as well. After all, it provides a source of income to all the workers who give their services at recycling facilities.
What To Do If You Spot A Used Battery
Along with materials like plastic, recycling batteries is also a healthy practice. It guards the environment against the potential danger of explosions. So, if you spot any spent and non-functional batteries in your vicinity, consider recycling them. Try to dispose of them where the recycling facilities may easily find them. This would help you get rid of the battery waste and make a contribution to the betterment of the environment too.