Dead batteries thrown away with other waste and recycling are likely to be crushed or punctured once the waste is collected and processed. Some battery types in particular, like lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH) can ignite or even explode when they’re damaged. Once this happens the batteries can quickly set fire to other materials in the waste such as paper, which can lead to serious incidents that put lives at risk.
Although safe to use normally, powerful lithium-ion batteries are typically the most dangerous if they are not recycled properly. These batteries are often found in products like laptops, tablets, mobile phones, radio-controlled toys, bluetooth devices, shavers, electric toothbrushes, power tools, scooters and even e-cigarettes.
How to recycle batteries
Recycling your old household batteries is easy to do. Put them in a sturdy box or bag and place them alongside your new recycling bins and the collection crews will do the rest.
Car batteries should be taken to your nearest recycling centre.
Also, most shops and supermarkets that sell batteries now have collection bins in store to recycle used batteries.
How are batteries recycled?
There are different ways of recycling batteries but the aim is always the same – recovering the raw material used to make the battery so that it can be used again to make something new.
- Battery use: cars, forklifts
- Recovered material: lead, polypropylene and gypsum (from the acid)
- Potential uses: lead acid batteries, battery cases, agriculture and other industries (filler for plasterboard and washing powder)
- Battery use: power tools
- Recovered material: nickel, steel and cadmium
- Potential uses: metal plating, steel industry and batteries (restricted use)
- Battery use: domestic
- Recovered material: steel, zinc and manganese
- Potential uses: steel industry and many other industrial applications
- Battery use: mobile phones
- Recovered material: nickel and steel
- Potential uses: steel industry
- Battery use: laptops
- Recovered material: cobalt and steel
- Potential uses: electronics, battery, paint manufacture and steel industry