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Common single-use or rechargeable batteries such as lithium and button batteries are recyclable, but access to recycling may not be available in all locations. You may be able to take these batteries to a household hazardous waste collection event or drop-off location sponsored by your county, city, waste disposal district/company, or health department. All non-rechargeable alkaline, carbon-zinc, and manganese batteries are considered ordinary waste in the state of Minnesota. In most cases, they can be disposed of with regular trash.

Why it’s Important To Dispose of Batteries Correctly

Imagine the different types of batteries you’ve thrown away in your lifetime. Most homes probably have a box of old batteries sitting in their closet. From button batteries to ten AA and AAA batteries to D, C, and 9-volt batteries, there are many different household batteries. So, what about all those old rechargeable batteries you bought? Make sure you dispose of them properly so they don’t wind up going to waste.

It important that you don’t throw your old phone in the trash. Batteries contain heavy metals that can contaminate the environment when they are improperly disposed of. When certain metals are incinerated, they might be released into the air or can concentrate in the ash. There are several methods to prevent the release of hazardous metals, including using non-metal products or storing and transporting wastes separately from other waste.

  • Batteries may produce the following potential hazards
  • The toxic metal nanoparticles in smoke put human health at risk. They even affect trees and crops.
  • Disposing of waste products by means of landfills produces heavy metals that may be toxic to our environment.
  • The proper disposal of your lead-acid battery is critical to our environment and public health.
  • Contain strong corrosive acids.
  • May cause burns or danger to eyes and skin.

Rechargeable Batteries

Lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries have been commonly used for portable electronics. Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries have the best charge capacity but nickel-metal hydride batteries have a longer lifespan. Nickel-cadmium batteries are not as common, but are cheaper than other kinds of rechargeable batteries. Sealed lead rechargeable batteries are used for applications that require extreme temperatures such as solar or underwater. Rechargeable batteries are one way to cut down on the number of batteries that end up in landfills every year. Because certain rechargeable batteries can be charged hundreds of times before they have to be replaced, this is definitely something worth considering.

When buying rechargeable batteries, always check the packaging for the recycling seal. Packaging with this symbol can be recycled in most communities. Rechargeable batteries contain toxic chemicals. The seals on the product packaging communicate which rechargeable batteries are recycling-friendly.

Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline batteries are commonly used in household wireless devices. These batteries contain a high amount of power that can be released if the battery is not handled correctly. It is important to follow proper disposal procedures to avoid any accidents when throwing them out. It’s important to recycle batteries when you’re done using them. Batteries contain heavy metals and other chemicals that are harmful to the environment. By making sure your old batteries are handled correctly, you can keep the environment clean and safe for everyone.

Collect used batteries in a container that is safe and easy and before you dispose of old batteries, make sure to tape the terminals and cover the ends with electrical tape.

Where Can I Recycle Batteries

All batteries must be disposed of properly at an approved recycling center because some have toxic substances such as cadmium and lead. However, you should always try to recycle all batteries. Here are some options for recycling batteries

  • The Home Depot, in partnership with Call2Recycle, a non-profit battery recycling organization, offers customers free recycling of rechargeable batteries. Customers may drop off any of their home’s batteries at the store for proper disposal.
  • You can recycle your lead acid or car battery by bringing it to a local auto dealer or battery retail location.
  • Residents can check with their local solid waste district to see if there will be a collection program or upcoming event in their area.
  • Most battery manufacturers and recycling centers offer mail-in programs for recycling batteries. Before mailing your batteries, make sure to follow postal shipping precautions.

Proper disposal of batteries is good for the environment because it will reduce the occurrence of pollution, littering and the potential fire hazard.

Challenges In Recycling Li-Ion Batteries

In many cases, the fate of spent lead-acid batteries is logical and straightforward. Some businesses will buy them for their metal content, recycle them to recover that content, and then sell it on the open market. But the sheer volume of these batteries combined with the economic forces at play makes this model difficult to enact, leading some firms to seek other solutions.

The recent drop in the price of cobalt raises questions about whether recycling or repurposing Li-ion batteries is a better strategy than manufacturing new batteries with fresh materials. Cobalt price changes may impact the attractiveness of recycled over mined cobalt. Should this happen, there will be a greater focus on the usage and recycling of cobalt. This might affect recycling companies that recycle cobalt as their main income source. Another long-term financial concern for companies considering stepping into battery recycling is whether a different type of battery, such as Li air, or a different vehicle propulsion system, like hydrogen-powered fuel cells, will gain a major foothold on the electric-vehicle market in coming years. This could impact the demand for recycling Li-ion batteries.

Another important market trend is the increasing use of Li-ion batteries in consumer electronics. In the early 1990s, Sony commercialized Li-ion batteries. Since then, researchers have repeatedly tailored the cathode’s composition to reduce cost and to enhance charge capacity, longevity, recharge time, and other performance parameters.

Lithium-ion batteries use cathodes made of a mixture of lithium and compounds to provide higher voltage, greater energy density, and reduced self-discharge. Although lithium-ion batteries use many of the same components, the specific parts—and their arrangement within the battery—vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Although the components in Li-ion batteries are similar to those of the nickel-metal hydride batteries that are already recycled, adding lithium to the mix adds challenges for battery recyclers. Since a wide variety of materials is used in creating the lithium-ion battery, many recyclers are unable to use them. This leads to extended storage and labor costs further increasing the cost of the recycled product. For example, if they’re being sent for use in new batteries, it will be necessary for recyclers to sort the batteries by their chemical contents to ensure only those appropriate for new batteries get through.

There are many obstacles in the way of recycling Li-ion batteries, including a variety of sizes, shapes, and multiple layers. Fortunately, this is changing and companies are finding ways to recycle these batteries or create new ones so that they can be reused. Although electric vehicles may be set to change the transportation world, dismantling these vehicles can be a bit of a challenge as the technology is still new and somewhat unfamiliar. In many ways, the electric battery packs used in automotive and stationary applications are just like conventional lithium-ion cells but, as a group, they can pose serious safety risks if improperly dismantled.