Recycle containers for batteries has become a popular way to recycle in many U.S. states. But which batteries are acceptable to recycle based on U.S. government regulations? And, most importantly, how are batteries recycled so they better the environment?
Dry Cell Batteries
This is the most common type of battery you’ll be recycling and falls under the alkaline or carbon zinc variety that you use in many standard electronic items. Dry cells also cover Nickel-Cadmium batteries that you’re using in all your other electronic items such as your cell phone and laptop computer.
Some of the other types of dry cell batteries are Lithium batteries used in watches and digital cameras, Lithium-Ion batteries as the alternate type you use in cell phones and laptops, plus dreaded mercury batteries. Mercury batteries, in particular, can be very toxic and should never be incinerated.
Wet Cell Batteries
These batteries are larger in size and are typically used in things that require more power. This includes lead acid batteries used in cars, or steel case batteries for things like industrial equipment. One of the largest is the absolyte battery used to power telecommunications systems.
How Are Alkaline Batteries Recycled?
Recycling alkaline batteries is a very useful procedure, considering the internal parts are re-used in other products. The most reusable components are zinc, steel, paper and plastic. These are all taken out separately using a mechanical process at a designated room temperature.
How are Nickel-Cadmium Batteries Recycled?
The plastic and metals are separated from these batteries in a very refined process. Metals are melted down through a process called High-Temperature Metal Reclamation. Once solidified, they’re taken out to use in other products on the market, which ironically may be more electronic items. The same process happens for the plastic.
How are Lithium and Lithium-Ion Batteries Recycled?
Lithim batteries are recycled in a different way from Lithium-Ion batteries. After internal parts are taken out of a lithium battery, the components are placed into a caustic solution that more or less allows metals to be recovered and used again. The lithium itself is broken down to a powder, or lithium carbonate. This can be used in various ways to make more batteries.
Lithium-Ion recycling is a little easier. These batteries are also broken down into separate components that get recycled into other products. Some of these components include stainless steel and copper.
What About Mercury Batteries?
While mercury batteries are diminishing due to earlier-mentioned government regulations, existing mercury batteries are broken down similarly to the above batteries under set temperature conditions. The heavy metals are then sent to be re-used in the metals industry.Image: http://www.wastewiseproducts.com