In this day and age, batteries are a common household item. The AA, C and D batteries help power laptops, portable audio equipment, electronic toys and games, remote controls, and several other gadgets. But, what happens when a cell in one of your devices dies? Do you toss it in your trash can? If dead batteries end up in landfills, it can be quite dangerous. It is estimated that cells make up to 20% of the harmful household materials in landfills in America, which is quite worrisome. Waste management has become more and more important as populations increase.
With the staggering growth in the use of battery energy storage, we must address the question of what to do with them at the end of their lifecycle. Even though the energy storage underpins the sustainable energy grid, the batteries key components are not eco-friendly.
Before we tackle the recycling of battery energy storage and its importance, let’s first look at how to dispose of the old batteries.
How to Dispose of Old Batteries
If disposed of incorrectly, batteries components can cause harm to the environment. This is because; they contain toxic chemicals that can leak into the atmosphere and cause severe damage to human health and the environment.
When batteries end up in landfills, the toxic components in them can leak into the soil if incinerated or when they begin to rot away, which can pollute the soil. Also, they can reach our water supply and contaminate it as well.
Also, heavy metals in batteries such as mercury, nickel, and cobalt can react and form leachate, which can also contaminate air, water, and soil. Corrosive acids in cells can eat their way through the battery casing, and when they reach the right temperature, they can explode and release toxic fumes into the air. This can result in air pollution.
Therefore, it’s essential to dispose of the batteries in designated battery bins where they are collected and recycled. The disposal of batteries should take place in waste battery bins or waste management centers and not in the usual trash cans.
The procedure of disposing of the various types of batteries differs in different regions. Therefore, you should always check with your local government, state, city, or municipality website to learn more about the disposal guidelines in your area.
You can also check with your library or community centers because most have battery recycling drop-off sites. Alternatively, you can call your waste collection service providers and get the information from them.
Before disposal, make sure that the dead batteries are away from children and pets. Also, ensure that they are stored in a cool and dry place and tape their terminals because they may still contain a little bit of charge. Store them in a cardboard or plastic container and avoid mixing different types of batteries when storing.
Some alkaline batteries are non-hazardous, especially those that were manufactured since 1996 and can be thrown in a trash can. However, most states require you to dispose them of in a designated facility.
With only the exception of automotive-type lead-acid batteries, you can place all other cells that are disposable and rechargeable in the battery collection containers. Car batteries must be disposed in hazardous waste collection facilities, or you can drop them at an auto-parts retailer near you.
Let’s now delve into what you need to know about recycling the battery energy storage and its importance.
Recycling the Battery Energy Storage
Battery storage can support sustainable energy storage. Recycling of the energy storage batteries depends on the chemical composition of each. As solar power and batteries work together more often, the importance of recycling each of these technologies grows.
Most cells that are recycled are the Lead-acid batteries which are now being eclipsed by lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries can leak hazardous and toxic components such as lead, lithium, and dangerous acid, which are very harmful to the environment. Also, Nickel-cadmium is another battery still in use and has a similarly recycling rate.
There is tremendous support for recycling than for disposal for these batteries because recycling has more benefits than disposal. Recycling allows us to reuse materials that would otherwise be discarded and cause potential harm. Reusing can save energy and sustain our world for future generations to come.
Importance of Recycling Battery Energy Storage
- Recycling allows the recovery and reuse of components such as lead, cobalt, plastics, iron, copper, aluminum, lithium, and electrolyte that would have otherwise been discarded.
- If we recycle, we ensure that there is safe management of used and old batteries.
- Recycling helps reduce the risk of damage and potential for a fire since most of them are flammable.
- Safe disposal and recycling of batteries reduce waste materials that end up in the landfill.
- It allows conservation of natural resources, including metals and minerals.
- It helps prevent air, water, and soil pollution.
- Recycling of batteries also saves energy.
- With recycling, there is a decrease in emissions of greenhouse gas that contribute to global climate change and global warming.
- It helps conserve the environment for future generations.
- Recycling leads to the creation of new and well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries.
- When we recycle the materials, then they can be reused in making new products.
Different states in the US acknowledge the dangers that come from non-recycled batteries. Therefore, they have enacted legislation to require proper disposal and recycling. You can find out more information about what your state laws say about the disposal and recycling of different batteries.
Note: This is a guest post by Green Coast, a blog about renewable energy and green living