How to Properly Recycle Old Batteries


With the massive surge in the popularity of battery-operated toys and electronic goods, the pile of spent batteries is also growing. Industry analysts fear that by 2030, the number of used lithium-ion batteries will hit the 2 million metric tons mark worldwide.

It is not only detrimental to nature but hazardous to human health as well. Because, if the current trends are to be taken into account, these batteries at present often end up as a material for landfills.

Many people are unaware of lithium-ion batteries being recyclable. And, one reason for the batteries being discarded after a single use is this.

Lithium-ion batteries are usually packed with metals and other materials. These can mostly be recovered and reused after a bit of processing.

This article discusses everything you need to know and understand about the proper way of battery recycling.

 Are All Batteries Recyclable?

Yes, all batteries are recyclable. The batteries you use in the household, including the button batteries used in the watches, can be recycled.

The rechargeable batteries used in mobile phones and laptops are also recyclable. Even car batteries and electric vehicle batteries can be recycled.

 How to Properly Dispose of Batteries for Recycling?

Once the battery is used up, the type of the battery and contents within the battery determines how it should be disposed of and recycled. It is crucial to learn and understand how to dispose of the batteries correctly as per their material content.

  1. One of the most convenient ways to dispose of the batteries is to return them to the store they were initially brought from. It is especially true for lithium-ion batteries.
  2. There are also collection networks where you can dispose of your used lithium-ion batteries. These collection networks include various drop-off facilities at different institutions and municipal depots.
  3. For the small or midsize battery disposal for recycling, place them in a plastic bag. You can also use non-conductive tape to cover the terminals of the batteries. Not many people are aware, but even used batteries contain enough energy to start a fire that can lead to massive devastation.
  4. For the large-sized batteries, it can be difficult for you to remove them from the systems they are attached to. It is best to refer to the instructions given by the manufacturers. Do pay heed to their safety instructions when removing or replacing such batteries.
  5. Lithium-ion battery recycling is not a well-known practice worldwide, but retailers do it. You can also look for such battery recycling programs. Most of these recycling programs accept batteries of all varieties. Usually, such a program sells a container in which you can store the used batteries. You can mail them back once the container gets filled. They will take care of the battery recycling or disposal afterward.

 How to Properly Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries?

Rechargeable batteries are also pretty commonly found in the household these days. They are used in digital cameras, laptops, power banks, and other electronic items. These can also be recycled, but the process is different from the disposal of other types of single-use batteries. The reason is rechargeable batteries contain heavy metals, which can be hazardous for the environment.

Some organizations accept rechargeable batteries for recycling. They usually supply drop boxes where you can drop these rechargeable batteries.

You can also call your local solid waste disposal service to pick up these batteries.

 Benefits of Recycling Used Batteries

Batteries contain toxic metals like mercury and lead, nickel, and cadmium. If they are used as landfills, they can contaminate the groundwater and the soil, thus severely harming the ecosystem.

There are multiple other benefits other than just saving Mother Earth from getting more polluted with batteries as a landfill. By recycling your used batteries, you are contributing to the following benefits:

  • The materials that can be recovered from the used batteries could be used for making new batteries. It will significantly reduce manufacturing costs.
  • The other materials in a used battery include costly metals like nickel and cobalt, lithium, and manganese. At times, the concentration of these metals within the battery is much more than what is available in the natural metal ores. It is imperative to mention that used batteries are enriched ores and often better than natural ones.
  • If batteries are recycled on a large scale, the metals contained in these batteries can be recovered economically. It will result in lowering the price of electric vehicles and batteries.
  • The more the recycling of the used batteries, the less is the mining of the metals from their natural ores. It will lead to lowering the harm caused to the overall environment.

The benefits are not only for the environment but for yourself as well. It is not without any reason that batteries are considered hazardous wastes in most countries. They can pose a serious threat to the environment and the ecosystem, eventually leading back to you. Do your bit to save the environment. Recycle the used batteries, be it the single-use batteries or the rechargeable ones.

 What Else Can You Do?

There is more you can do than just recycling your old used batteries. For instance, it is also advisable to use rechargeable batteries wherever possible. A rechargeable battery can be used at least 1000 times more than single-use batteries. You can also invest in devices and appliances that use solar power or other forms of renewable energies. For example, dynamo bicycle lights or windup radio appliances.


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