How to dispose of batteries correctly and responsibly
Batteries are of great significance in our everyday life from laptops, powerwall, portable power station to marine applications. Have you ever thought about how to dispose of batteries? Roughly, 29 percent of Americans are not sure how to dispose of batteries. Different kinds of batteries also add to the complexity of the matter that how to dispose of batteries safely.
When the batteries are dead or damaged they should be properly disposed of instead of thrown in a trash bin so the harmful chemicals may not pollute the environment. This is a matter of great responsibility. In this article, we will talk about how to dispose of batteries correctly and responsibly in detail.
What are the types of batteries-do I need to dispose of batteries according to types
There are three main types of household batteries used for different jobs.
Wet battery refers to a kind of battery with electrolyte flowing easily and in a liquid state such as lead-acid batteries.
Dry-cell non rechargeable
These are disposable batteries used in different household jobs. These batteries further include:
● Zinc carbon
● Zinc chloride
● Alkaline manganese
● Primary button cells
Among them, primary button cells further include
● Mercuric oxide
● Zinc air
● Silver oxide
These general-purpose batteries include
● Nickel metal hydride(NiMH)
● Lithium ion(Li-ion) batteries
Among them, lithium-ion batteries are much greater than NiCad and NiMH in their energy storage capacity. They have long cycle life(up to 4000 times), low self discharge rate(3.5% per month), and light weight. Moreover, lithium batteries are also more environmental friendly because they do not contain toxic elements like lead, cadmium and so on.
The types of batteries are related to how to dispose of batteries. We must dispose of them according to the material used in them. But not the whole responsibility lies on their chemistry because the main issue is the proper way of disposal.
As if an eco-friendly battery is thrown in a trash bin that can be accessed by any pet or curious child. That means careless disposal is equally harmful to the environment as the chemicals used in the battery when exposed to it.
The ideas or methods are under consideration to dispose of the batteries by keeping the nature of chemicals used. X-Ray technology is being used to sort them out for their proper disposal. The consumers can play a bigger role to deplete batteries through careful disposal which can help a lot to solve the rising issue of battery disposal and battery recycling in the world.
What happens if you dispose of batteries improperly
Many batteries contain toxic materials in them, when you do not dispose of them properly, these harmful chemicals are spilled on the ground and get soaked by soil, which will make way to underground water supplies.
In addition, the air may be contaminated. The old batteries thrown carelessly in direct sun can explode. Pets in homes and children can also be harmed severely by leaking chemicals if they pick up thrown batteries from the bin.
What type of waste is a battery
Mostly, batteries are considered hazardous waste. This is because many hazardous chemicals are used in these batteries such as nickel, cadmium, sulfuric acid, lead, mercury, etc. These materials give batteries a hazardous property.
So the issue of disposing of such materials is important. Some batteries are bigger risk in this line as they are highly explosive in getting heat. That’s why the consideration of disposing of all these hazardous materials properly is of great concern. Different countries have developed systems to classify hazardous and non-hazardous waste batteries.
How to store and properly dispose of batteries
● Store the batteries in dry cool places.
● Use insulators like card boxes and plastic bags to separate the batteries.
● Metallic containers can cause a short circuit if any damaged battery is stored in them.
● Don’t keep the new or old batteries under pressure so that damage may not occur to the batteries.
● Don’t keep the batteries near the flammable place or in direct sun.
● Keep the batteries out of the reach of children and pets.
● Dispose of batteries in the recycling plants where these are disposed safely according to their chemical nature.
● Don’t throw the old batteries in the general household bins.
● Don’t throw batteries in direct sun.
● Corroded or leaked batteries must not be exposed to naked skin or eyes. Wear an apron or put on gloves to hold these batteries when you are going to dispose of them.
● Don’t dispose of batteries in soil or water to avoid environmental pollution.
Where can I take batteries for special disposal
Different countries adopt different methods in the problem of how to dispose of batteries. In some countries, local authority have a recycling facility and accept consumers’ old batteries for their special scheme of recycling. Some battery manufacturers also offer the battery recycling service to their customers by collecting batteries back to make them recycled again.
They mention their e-mail on the boxes to be connected with their customers to provide them with the recycling service.This effort also saves the virgin sources of chemicals to be used.The approach to keeping biodegradable chemicals away from the environment is in dire need of time. So the battery recycling schemes are much appreciated which is unavoidable too.
Are all batteries recyclable-what happens to batteries when recycled
Most types of batteries are recyclable. Some batteries are chemically easily recyclable and can be managed on low cost. Rechargeable batteries like Ni-Cd, Ni-Mh, Ni-Zn, lead acid and especially Li-ion are readily recyclable. Recycling batteries generally depends on the cost to regain the materials. If it exceeds the mining cost of the material, then recycling that particular type of battery is not an option. Some steps are there for the recycling process:
1. Collecting the disposed batteries
Only a certified authority can collect different damaged batteries. For this purpose, they have managed dumpsters or battery banks in any specific place where consumers dispose the batteries of.
In recycling centers, batteries are sorted out according to the chemicals used in them. And these sorted batteries are kept carefully to avoid any accident.
3. Restoration of chemicals and metals
Different materials are separated and restored from batteries in different working units of recycling centers.
Restoration is done by different methods like heating, pressing, crushing, and shredding the materials according to their requirement.
For different batteries, a different process is done according to their type or nature.
● Lead acid batteries:
Sulfuric acid, metal, plastic, and lead are restored by crushing and grinding the battery. Acid is neutralized. The restored material is used to make new batteries and other things too.
● Silver oxide batteries:
Mercury is obtained from these batteries which can be used in new batteries again. It is highly dangerous to the environment.
● Lithium-ion batteries:
These batteries are recycled by the process of shredding. Batteries are broken down into many pieces. By shredding process, not only the Cobalt, Nickel, Copper, and Aluminum extracted but also a significant amount of Lithium is regained from the black grounded material.
This process is done by these steps:
● Discharge the batteries
● Separate the batteries from the device
● Mechanical process (crushing and shredding)
● Separate the electrolyte from the battery
● Hydrometallurgical process
● Pyro metallurgical process
FAQs about how to dispose of batteries
How many batteries are thrown away each year in the world
Every year, about 15 billion household batteries are thrown away in a landfill. It is an alarming number to the environment if the schemes of recycling batteries are not taken seriously.
Can you put batteries in the rubbish
From household to industrial batteries, all of them contain hazardous chemicals which should not be put in the household rubbish bin. These harmful chemicals result in to pollution of inland water and the environment.
What kind of batteries are a hazardous waste
Some batteries have harmful chemicals in them which need to be disposed of safely and properly as a kind of hazardous waste. So they could not destroy our environment. These chemicals are:
How do you dispose of rechargeable Li-ion batteries
Certain Dos and Don’ts are mentioned which should be followed during the disposal of Li-ion batteries.
● Remove the battery from the device and keep it unexposed to other sensitive materials.
● The bulk of lithium-ion batteries that to be disposed of must be handed over to a certified batteries disposing authority.Insulate the terminals while keeping several batteries packed together to avoid a short circuit.
● Don’t throw batteries in general bins.
● Don’t pile up punctured batteries.
● Don’t expose batteries to an excessive temperature which may cause a severe explosion.
Can old batteries explode
Not only old batteries, but all types of batteries can also explode on disposing or storing them in excessive heat or fire. Old batteries when leaked or corroded can also catch fire on improper disposal or handling.
How do you dispose of corroded batteries
As the corrosion is made by acid so it is not safe to touch with naked skin. Acid leaks through the battery and eats the outer body of the battery. Look for a nearby battery factory to dispose them of.
● Put on gloves to hold the battery.
● Keep the corroded battery in a sealed plastic bag.
Although it’s safe to throw such batteries in general bins according to authorities but still can be disposed of properly to be recycled.
How do you dispose of a hot AA battery
Simply, remove the battery from the device and let it cool so that overheating may not result in an explosion.