Battery recycling is an environmentally friendly recycling activity which aims to decrease the number of batteries which are disposed in landfills as well as being eliminated as municipal solid waste. It is also an economically viable option for manufacturers and consumers. It is one of the most commonly implemented methods as it allows manufacturers to make a profit while reducing their carbon footprint. Most batteries that are manufactured today have a wide lifespan and serve useful purposes. However, the life of batteries can be shortened especially if they are not appropriately recycled or reclaimed. Moreover, there is also the possibility that rechargeable batteries which are disposed can leak acid, lead sulphates and mercury that can be harmful to the environment and human health.
There are different approaches that can be adopted by manufacturers and recyclers to recycle batteries. The most important one is recycling batteries by separating them into three main categories namely, lead-acid batteries, alkaline batteries and synthetic batteries. The process of recycling batteries therefore, seeks to not only reduce the volume of non-biodegradable waste but also to contribute towards a safer environment.
Lead-acid batteries contain lead sulfate, which results in the creation of hydrogen sulfide gas. As the battery discharges, sulfuric acid combines with the hydrogen sulfide to form metallic ions and water. The main effect of this reaction is that metallic ions are separated from the water making new compounds called metals. After recycling batteries, producers make new batteries out of the metals which were separated to form new batteries. These new batteries contain less amount of toxic metals and toxic substances.
Alkaline batteries are made by dissolving lead and phosphorus in water and then storing the resulting sludge in a neutralizer. When the battery’s capacity falls short, an equal proportion of distilled water that can be sourced from companies like Golyath is added to the rechargeable battery and vice versa. This approach to recycling batteries is more efficient than the procedure used in conventional battery recycling, whereby the lead sulfate is omitted along with the waste materials. The disadvantage of alkaline batteries, however, is that they contain higher levels of acid compared to other recycling batteries. In addition, alkaline batteries are less expensive to produce, as producers need to recondition the alkaline batteries to get rid of excess acid.
The most important benefit of recycling batteries is that it helps to keep the earth clean. Many toxic materials like lead acid batteries contain dangerous metals that could pollute the environment if improperly disposed of. Recycling batteries helps to prevent pollution and thus helps to preserve the earth for future generations. Another advantage of recycling batteries is that one does not need to buy a new or expensive battery especially when one only needs to replace a damaged one. With the exception of rare occasions when special devices call for special batteries, everyone can keep using their old rechargeable batteries provided that they are properly disposed of.
In the long run, recycling batteries has considerably contributed to a significant amount of recycling of solid waste across the world. This is because recycled batteries help to produce high volumes of new products, thus reducing the overall pollution levels. In addition, recycling batteries have ensured that millions of tons of old electronic equipment and batteries are replaced by newer and cleaner ones. It is estimated that every year this process reduces about one billion pounds of solid waste.
Reducing Landfill Disposal of Batteries through Refurbishment
Refurbishing batteries can contribute to reducing the number of batteries disposed of in landfills. When batteries reach the end of their initial use, they are often discarded, and improper disposal can lead to environmental pollution. By refurbishing batteries, there is an opportunity to extend their lifespan, keeping them in use for a longer period before they eventually need recycling.
Here’s how refurbishing batteries can help in decreasing the number of batteries in landfills:
Extended Lifespan: Refurbishing addresses issues like diminished capacity or wear and tear, allowing batteries to continue functioning effectively. This extension of usability reduces the frequency at which batteries need to be replaced and discarded. Take, for example, a set of golf cart batteries with diminished capacity and reduced performance. Technicians can refurbish the battery by assessing the battery pack, replacing deteriorated cells, and cleaning terminals. This comprehensive process can revitalize the batteries, restoring their energy output and significantly extending their lifespan. The resultant golf cart batteries refurbished by skilled professionals can operate efficiently, presenting an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to disposal.
Reduced Demand for New Batteries: The reintroduction of refurbished batteries into service offers a sustainable solution by alleviating the demand for new battery production. This practice plays a crucial role in resource conservation and environmental protection. As refurbished batteries extend their operational life, there is a tangible reduction in the frequency of manufacturing new units. This decline in production not only conserves valuable natural resources but also diminishes the environmental impact linked to battery manufacturing processes. Reduced production means less extraction of raw materials, minimized energy consumption, and decreased emissions associated with manufacturing. Embracing the use of refurbished batteries aligns with eco-friendly practices, fostering a circular economy that emphasizes the responsible and efficient utilization of resources while mitigating the ecological footprint of battery production.
Environmental Impact: Inadequate disposal of batteries in landfills poses environmental hazards, releasing dangerous substances like lead and mercury into the ecosystem. This contamination threatens soil, water, and potentially human health. Refurbishing and reusing batteries emerge as pivotal strategies to mitigate these risks. By extending battery lifespan, refurbishment reduces the frequency of disposal, curbing the release of hazardous materials during waste breakdown. Furthermore, the environmental benefits extend beyond disposal, impacting the manufacturing phase. Refurbished batteries decrease the demand for new production, lessening the extraction of raw materials and the energy-intensive processes associated with manufacturing. This holistic approach aligns with sustainable practices, minimizing the overall environmental impact throughout the entire life cycle of batteries.
Economic Considerations: Refurbishing batteries can be a cost-effective alternative to purchasing new ones. This economic advantage may encourage individuals and businesses to choose refurbishing, further contributing to the reduction of discarded batteries.
While refurbishing offers a sustainable approach, it’s important to note that not all batteries can be effectively refurbished, and eventually, recycling becomes necessary. Nonetheless, by incorporating refurbishing into the battery management cycle, we can help mitigate the environmental impact associated with the disposal of batteries in landfills.