Here you will read about the safe methods to dispose of each kind of batteries. Along with disposal, you will also look at how you could recycle and reuse an old battery. It should come as no surprise to anyone that we are surrounded by technology. And almost all of it has grown step by step. From a switchboard loaded with wires required for computers and even telephone, we have now gone to mobile devices. Our TVs run on remote, ACs on remote, mobiles are wireless, toys are wireless and we even have domestic power source in the form inverters and power banks. Being surrounded by machines means energy becomes of utmost importance. And to keep these machines mobile, the energy source also needs to be mobile. The solution to this requirement comes in the form of batteries. Batteries are a source of electrical energy that results from chemical reaction between two electrodes made of some specific chemical components and used in specific pairs. The oldest models of batteries used electrodes of lead in acid. Now, we have moved to a much lighter and more efficient Lithium ion batteries over the years.
Like every other thing, batteries have a life and degrade over the years. After a certain time, batteries turn extremely inefficient. And then we have to dispose of old batteries. But, as they are made up of chemical components, these are hazardous to environment and need proper protection. Improper handling or disposing of batteries can lead to serious damage, injuries and can even prove fatal. It is not a good practice to throw away your old batteries with your domestic waste into the garbage bin. If there is any damage to the body of battery and the chemical leaks out, it can be inflammable or injure someone seriously. Also, these batteries store electrical energy, which means that under certain conditions they can cause electrocution or even explosion.
There are a lot of risks involved when using batteries, but in today’s age, it is impossible to live without batteries. As we already mentioned, TVs and ACs run on remote. The remote needs batteries to power it’s electronics. Toys and mobiles are wireless. Their electronics need battery as the power source. Our laptops need batteries to operate and be useful as a mobile computer. Even our automobiles need batteries to run electrical parts in the vehicle like the lights, indicators and horn. So, we are also, infact, surrounded by batteries.
With batteries in such abundance, there is no way that we can give up using batteries entirely. So, to avoid causing damage to the environment or any person, we should be aware of various techniques to be able to properly dispose of battery. We will look at various batteries and techniques of how to dispose of car batteries, dispose of lithium batteries and dispose of old batteries.
Read about the Different Types of Batteries
Batteries in Cars
In cars, batteries are mainly used to provide initial ignition to the engine. This means, that they need to provide a high current for a short period of time. They are not needed much once the car is running. Thus, if a deep or complete discharge is avoided, a car battery can have a life upto 5 years with proper maintenance. These are generally lead acid batteries in which small cells are grouped together.
These are the batteries you will find in your cellphones and laptops. Use of lithium ion and carbon as the chemical components, these batteries are smaller and lighter in size and weight than lead acid batteries of same capacity. These batteries have a low self discharge rate but have a much shorter life than lead acid batteries. This makes them as a good choice for rechargeable batteries.
These batteries are made up of zinc and manganese dioxide as electrodes and a non acidic base as electrolyte. They are the most commonly found and used batteries come in and in the shape of small cylinders with one end (positive) having a small raised metallic bubble. They are commonly used in remotes and for clocks. They can be rechargeable as well as not rechargeable. The label of the battery clearly mentions whether the battery is rechargeable.
We will now look into the safe disposal of each kind of battery. Along with disposal, we will also look at how you could recycle and reuse an old battery of a car.
What to do with Old Car Batteries
Car batteries are usually lead acid batteries. These batteries are very recyclable, about 99%. In fact, vehicle batteries are the most recycled product in the world. This means that most of the new batteries do not require new raw material, but are rather made from recycled raw material. The recycling process involves separating the lead from the battery. This lead is then molten and given the shape of a new lead. The plastic body of the battery can also be recycled. The acid in the battery needs careful treatment, but can also be recycled. It is treated and neutralised. Around 80% of a new vehicle battery can be made from recycled old battery.
To recycle a battery, you can take it to your nearest automobile spare parts shop. You need to provide them details about the battery. In exchange of the old battery, you can get store credit or you can recycle batteries for cash. There may be a small recycling fee charged by the government. You could also contact your local municipal or even private e-waste management organisation and deposit your old battery for recycling with them. Even a local scrap dealer may buy your old battery as the lead in the battery fetches a decent amount of money in exchange. So, if your car batteries are old but still in a good shape and you are planning to dispose of batteries, you should consider recycling them for cash or credit.
How to Dispose of Car Batteries
We just read about recycling old batteries in exchange of cash or credit. But sometimes, you cannot exchange it at the store either due to damage to the battery or lack on enough documents with regards to the battery or you may not even have any shop accepting batteries for cash or credit around you. In that case, you should be aware of how to dispose of car batteries.
Lead acid batteries contains hazardous sulphuric acid. Sulphuric acid can damage your skin upon contact and is damaging to the eye on contact too. It is also very hazardous to environment being a potential cause for land and water pollution. You need to be careful when you dispose of old batteries. You can follow these steps when you dispose of car batteries:
1. Do a visual check
Do a visual check on the battery for any damage, bulge or crack. This is very important as any damage to battery from the outside is enough for the acid to spill out. This is very dangerous when transporting battery for disposal.
2. Do not dispose of old batteries in garbage
Batteries contain hazardous chemicals and should not be thrown in with domestic or even industrial garbage.
3. Check with local recycling depot
Check with your local recycling depot if they accept old batteries. There is also a chance that you might get paid for recycling old batteries.
Transportation of the battery should be done carefully and it should be handled with proper care to avoid any accidents.
How to Dispose of Lithium Batteries
Lithium ion are one the most popular batteries in mobile devices now for their ability to charge easily, hold their charge for longer duration, light weight and also slow self discharge. The main component of the battery, lithium, holds the charge. The battery contains heavy metals, and this can be dangerous if you dispose of batteries in the garbage can. These batteries can not only harm the environment, but also cause a firebreak.
To dispose of lithium batteries properly,
1.Do not dump the battery in garbage or burn it Lithium ion batteries should not be discarded with domestic or industrial garbage. Also, do not burn the battery or throw it in open flames.
2.Locate local hazardous waste recycling depot
The safest way to dispose of old batteries is to contact your local hazardous waste recycling depot.
There are also a lot of privately run e-waste collection centres. You can check with them and deposit your batteries with them for recycling.
How to Dispose of Alkaline Batteries
Alkaline batteries contain zinc and manganese dioxide. These metals are recyclable and it is usually a good practice to take them to recycling. These batteries are very commonly used in remotes of TVs and ACs, in toys and even in clocks. Some of these are rechargeable, but not all. If your alkaline battery is not rechargeable, then you need to recycle it.
The most interesting thing though is that you can throw away the batteries in garbage can all get with the domestic waste. You could not always do this though. So, what has changed over the years? Well, for the last 20 years, alkaline batteries have not used mercury as one of the contents. Mercury is a very hazardous chemical and could cause a lot of environmental damage. Thus, it was not allowed to dispose of batteries with domestic waste. But now, mercury has been banned from being used in manufacturing of alkaline batteries. Manufacturers like Duracell have it mentioned on their website that it is safe to dispose of alkaline batteries in the garbage and is intact legal.
Even though it is legal, recycling them should be given a priority. A lot of these batteries are consumed on daily basis and can cause a great volume of waste. These can be recycled to obtain base metals back from them and can decrease our collective carbon footprint. Also, you must keep the batteries away from fire as they are explosive. This also why you must try and not throw them in the garbage as it increases the risk of fire.
While batteries are a necessity in today’s age, we can stop them from being a hazardous waste menace for the environment. So next time your battery gets old, think of either safe way to dispose of old battery or contact your closest waste management center and e-waste collection centers.