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The Essential Guide to Recycling Scrap Batteries 

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Our lives are powered by batteries. Batteries are necessary for everything from your cell phone to your remote controls. Emergency backup systems that power critical equipment like computers, communication technology and medical technologies are also powered by batteries. Unfortunately, a lot of us simply throw them in the garbage without giving it any thought. You might be surprised to learn that recycling used batteries is crucial for the sustainability of the environment in addition to being good practice. Heavy metals are frequently present in batteries, thus merely melting them down is insufficient. In this blog, we'll look at the many battery kinds and how they may be recycled to help the environment. 


The Common Alkaline Battery 


Alkaline batteries, those common power supplies for toys and remote controls, are available in sizes ranging from AA to D. Steel, magnesium, or zinc carbon are the common materials used to make these batteries. Alkaline batteries are still used in some home appliances even though lithium-ion batteries are now the standard for modern electronics. 

Alkaline batteries may be recycled easily by shredding them first, then using an electrically powered arc steel mill to separate the zinc from other metals. 

The batteries can also be melted in a furnace, with hoover systems collecting zinc vapors and dumping the leftover scrap metal. 


These processes are often performed at specialized recycling facilities like AIM Recycling. 


Rechargeable Lithium-ion Batteries 


From smartphones to electric cars, a variety of items are powered by lithium-ion batteries. They must be recycled, but it's best to leave it to the experts due to safety concerns. 


Recycling Method: 


High Temperature Metal Reclamation, or HTMR, is the procedure used to make lithium-ion batteries. Lithium and carbon are separated by HTMR, leaving lithium as a metal oxide. 


Another specialized procedure called hydrometallurgy allows for the recycling of pure lithium batteries. Hydrometallurgy is a process that recycles pure lithium batteries by first collecting and disassembling the batteries, then dissolving the valuable metals like lithium in a chemical solution. After purification and recovery steps, these metals are reused to make new batteries, reducing the environmental impact of battery disposal and promoting sustainability. 


Nickel & Cadmium Batteries 


Nickel-cadmium batteries, which comprise cadmium, nickel, steel, and plastic, are frequently used in older computers and conventional power tools. 


Recycling Method: 


Nickel and cadmium batteries are often recycled via HTMR, much like lithium-ion batteries are. 

Metal oxide is produced when nickel, which has a high melting point, separates in a molten bath inside of a furnace. 


Lead-Acid Batteries (Automotive Batteries) 


Recycling Method: 


The recycling of lead-acid batteries is a difficult process: 


The battery is disassembled only after the sulfuric acid has been neutralized and dealt with. Lead and plastic are separated; lead sinks while plastic floats. The separation of lead and plastic in recycling lead-acid batteries involves disassembling the batteries, soaking or agitating the components in water where plastic components float due to their lower density and lead sinks. The floating plastic is then skimmed off, and both the plastic and lead undergo further processing to remove impurities, enabling their reuse in the production of new products and reducing the environmental impact of battery disposal. 

Lead is cleaned, melted, and then cast into ingots to be utilized in new batteries. 

Plastic is cleaned and recycled to create a variety of goods.  


Recycling at All Costs 


Certain batteries, such as those made of lead and cadmium, pose serious environmental risks. To limit their usage, many areas have enacted laws. 


For the safety and sustainability of the environment, recycling your spent batteries is essential. Batteries should not ever be disposed of in landfills, especially ones that contain dangerous compounds. Recycling facilities and skilled scrap yards are required to ensure that these procedures are carried out correctly. 


Recycling is always preferable to landfill disposal when it comes to disposing of spent batteries. It's not simply a wise decision; it's also essential for the wellbeing of the environment and future generations. 


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