You hear it all the time: recycle. The issue of recycling in today’s world is a big one, and isn’t unique to the battery industry. But even now, not all batteries are created equal and can’t be disposed of equally either. Need help recycling your batteries? Let us know.
It’s important to understand what kinds of batteries you have and which should be recycled. Use this guide as a way to navigate household batteries, car batteries and industrial batteries, and how they should be recycled.
– Non-Rechargeable Household Batteries
- Alkaline and Zinc-Carbon batteries are dry cell batteries that come completely sealed. With a variety of sizes such as AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt, these batteries are usually used in toys and electronics, among other things. They can leak as they age so proper disposal is important. When recycled, these batteries become components in things like fertilizer, plastic, paper, and steel products.
- Primary Lithium batteries are also small dry cell batteries that come in a variety of standard sizes. They can be used in a number of different items and are particularly well suited for high temperatures. They can overheat but they are non-spillable and non-toxic. While by the standards of most U.S. States, throwing these batteries away is acceptable, however, if a primary lithium battery is thrown away while still charged a fire could be started in the landfill if the lithium were to become exposed.
- Silver-Oxide batteries are dry cell button batteries that range in size from small to large. They are used in everything from hearing aids to aircraft. The proper recycling of these batteries helps reduce ground and water contamination and can even make you some money as well. There are many recycling plants around the country that will pay you for your used silver oxide batteries.
- Mercury batteries are another type of small dry cell batteries that come in a range of sizes. Commonly used in things like medical devices and cameras, mercury batteries are versatile but are also toxic and should be handled with care. Proper recycling is important because if they are ever incinerated they can release toxic vapors.
– Rechargeable Household Batteries
- Lead-Acid Gel batteries are used to power things such as electric wheelchairs, golf carts, and children’s electric ride on toy cars. These batteries are non-spillable as they are sealed in a hard plastic case and the electrolyte is gel instead of water. The lead, however, makes this battery toxic and, if not properly used, charged and disposed of, can catch fire.
- Nickel-Cadmium is commonly used in handheld power tools and remote control toys although it comes in a variety of sizes and has many uses. Without proper disposal or recycling, the nickel-cadmium battery can release toxic cadmium vapors if incinerated.
- Lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly common household batteries as they are used in cell phones, laptops, and many other handheld devices. These batteries are non-spillable and non-toxic, and once recycled, the metals and plastic recovered from the battery are used in the creation of new products.
There are three primary types of car batteries, lead-acid, VRLA, and hybrid. While they can all seem intimidating, it’s really important that you know how to properly handle them, especially in the area of disposal.
- Hybrid automotive batteries are commonly made with lithium-ion or nickel metal hydride and are non-spillable. They are important to recycle correctly as the components can harm the environment and even become flammable if not handled with care. Not to mention many of the reclaimed metals and plastics can be easily and quickly reused.
- Lead-Acid batteries are the most common car battery on the road is one of the most recycled batteries. Some states have instituted a core recycling rebate for these batteries which encourages consumers to turn in their old batteries. Once a lead acid battery is recycled nearly every component of the old battery has gone into the making of a new one. In fact, according to the EPA, the lead-acid battery recycling rate was 99%.
- VRLA, or valve-regulated lead-acid batteries are found in cars, boats and even wheelchairs. These batteries are relatively easy to care for and maintain. Because there is lead in the battery as well as an acid electrolyte, it is important to make sure they are recycled properly. Misuse of a lead acid battery can be dangerous.
While industrial batteries are not as common as household batteries, it is still important to understand the types of batteries and how to handle them. Industrial batteries are used across a number of industries and in a variety of ways.
- Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) are flooded cell batteries that typically use lead-acid. They are used to provide uninterrupted power to anything that cannot or should not have an interruption in power. Because they are typically made with lead acid, recycling is very important.
- Nickel-iron batteries are used to power things like railroad signals and are used in some mining operations. They are spillable, so although they are non-toxic, it’s best to dispose of them correctly to avoid any problems.
- Large Flooded Cell batteries are most often lead acid based batteries and are used for things like utility and telecommunications systems. They are spillable and very heavy so use caution if you ever have to handle it directly. Lead is toxic and the acid is corrosive so you should never just throw these batteries away.