Batteries help power the modern world. They’re everywhere, from cell phones, to laptops, to cars, and the list goes on and on. This technology, which is as old, or older, than the United States, keeps our technological revolution going. But batteries have lifespans, and if we want to protect our environment and use our resources sustainably, we’ll have to make sure battery recycling goes as mainstream as the cell phones they power.
Batteries, like the devices and technologies they power, are made from many different materials. Some contain lithium, some cobalt, some mercury – the list encompasses much of the periodic table. Unfortunately, many of these resources are limited, and some of them are toxic to the environment after they’re disposed of.
There is good news though, battery recycling effectively addresses both of these concerns. Proper battery recycling helps protect our environment, and ensures that the materials that make up these batteries don’t need to be pulled up from the ground.
The Types of Batteries that Need Recycling
From phone batteries that you need a surgeon’s touch to remove, to the simple AAs you chuck into a remote, batteries come in a wide range.
Common Household Batteries
When you think of batteries, AA and AAA probably come to mind immediately. These common household batteries, along with 9-Volt, D batteries, and many others, fall under the Alkaline and Zinc-Carbon category. These batteries, with some precautions like taping the ends, can be thrown away in most of the U.S.. However, you can, and should still recycle these batteries, and that can range from battery drop-off locations to curb-side pickup depending on your municipality.
The second kind, button-cell or coin, are the small round batteries that are found in watches, hearing aids, calculators, and more. Most of these nowadays are made of lithium, but older versions contained silver, cadmium, mercury, or another heavy metal. These should be recycled, and can be done at a battery takeback service or through your city or county’s recycling program.
The final common type of household batteries are lithium single-use. These often look similar to 9-Volt batteries, but also come in specialized shapes for cameras, calculators, and other equipments. According to the EPA, lithium batteries should not be put in trash or municipal recycling bins. Instead, they need to go to a proper recycling location.
Rechargeable and Technology Batteries
The most common and prevalent rechargeable batteries are Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries and Lithium-Ion (Li-ion). Ni-CD batteries typically power cameras, power tools, radios, and video cameras. Li-ion batteries make up the bulk of technology products, from cell phones to laptops to tablets. If the battery is detachable, you should take it to a battery take back service or your local hazardous waste collection program. For devices where the battery can’t be removed, most manufacturers operate a takeback services for their electronics.
Less common, but still in use, are Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Nickel-Zinc (Ni-Zn), Small Sealed Lead Acid (Pb) batteries. These batteries, particularly Lead Acid ones, need to be recycled to protect the environment.
There are few things worse than trying to turn on your car and discovering that your battery is dead. These batteries, whether Lead-Acid or Medium/Large Scale Li-ion, tend to be the most complex of the bunch, and the most difficult to recycle.
For these types of batteries, it’s typically best to let a professional take care of it, as they can be highly toxic if handled improperly. Most repair shops will take your old battery for recycling once it dies, but if you must deal with it yourself, be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines for its handling and disposal.
The Benefits of Battery Recycling
Like any other type of recycling, battery recycling helps protect our environment and ensure that valuable materials don’t go to waste.
The importance for batteries is high, as like electronics, they often contain toxic chemicals that leach into soil and water if they’re chucked into the landfill. The health effects from this are diverse, but they’re invariably bad. Recycling ensures that those toxic materials stay where they should, in the technology.
Building out a circular supply chain for technology is more important than ever, and is only going to become more so. The resources it takes to produce our gadgets aren’t limitless, and ensuring we recoup as much as we can from old devices and batteries means we can continue to enjoy technological advances. Once we run out of lithium, cadmium, or nickel, there’s no easy way to get more, outside of maybe mining the asteroid belt.
Battery and Technology Recycling with Electronics Recycling Finder
Electronics Recycling Finder partners with recyclers across the country to help keep technology sustainable. Our partners ensure that whatever technology you need to get rid of is done so in a sustainable and secure fashion. Give us a call at (844) 648-4908, or fill out the form on the page, and we’ll connect you to a recycling provider that can take care of your old electronics.