How To Dispose of Batteries

 Over 600 million batteries are thrown away along with household waste every year ending up in landfills across the UK. This can have negative knock on effects to people’s health as well as contaminating the environment. When we are discussing batteries this includes any day-to-day batteries that are for personal use so this includes most household batteries such as AA’s & AAA’s as well as compact batteries for watches & phones. Here we will explain why this is considered harmful to the country as well as what to do with old batteries & if they can be recycled.

What happens when you throw away batteries?

Both one-use & rechargeable batteries contain harmful materials that are harmful to the environment such as the following heavy metals:

  • Cadmium
  • Copper
  • Lead
  • Lithium
  • Manganese
  • Mercury
  • Potassium
  • Zinc

When these heavy metals are exposed to landfills via batteries, they can negatively affect the ecosystem in the area by permeating into the soil which, in turn could leak into local water supplies. This is particularly dangerous as all of the heavy metals listed above are highly hazardous to human health as well as the natural environment.

Can I throw batteries in a household bin?

The answer is no, throwing any battery in with household waste should be avoided at all cost. Everyone who uses batteries has responsibility of averting this level of pollution and it should be a concern for all households. Ultimately it will be everyday people who are affected by the incorrect disposal of batteries with the possibility of contaminated water.

How to dispose of your batteries safety

Now that we understand that we should not place household batteries in the bin, we will discuss the correct methods of disposing them so not to threaten ecological and environmental systems.

Battery Banks
According to the Waste Battery Regulations (which doesn’t take into account WEEE regulations), shops that sell 32kg of batteries a year (or around one pack of 4 AA batteries a day) must provide an in-store battery recycling collection bank where people can drop off waste batteries for free. This scheme means that most retailers such as supermarkets, small shops, or watch repairers will have a battery bank. As well as this councils will often provide local institutions that are regularly frequented with the facilities to drop off batteries such as leisure centres and schools. Any batteries that are left in the banks are then taken away by authorities to the correct recycling centres.

Request a Specific Bag for Recycling Batteries
Some people understandably will not have the time to travel to local centres to dispose of unwanted, waste batteries or will prefer to have them collected from their home along with the other household recycling. If this is the case, then the council or local authorities will often let you request a battery bag. Then you can leave waste batteries along side your other recycling (but separate to the other waste to avoid contamination) and the local authorities will pick them up while also providing a new bag.

How do batteries get recycled?

Recycling centres look to maximise the amount of usable materials they can reclaim when breaking down batteries for maximising profitability. Batteries will still contain metals such as steel & zinc which can be recovered to be used for positive purposes in other industries. The process starts by removing the combustible material like plastics & insolation to leave the metals in a clean, naked cells. The cells are then chopped up and heated until the metal liquifies. The non-metal substances are burned off while the alloys settle by weight to be skimmed off while still in liquid form where they are either sorted on site or shipped off to other plants for separating.

Recycling batteries is an intensive process that takes a lot of energy, reports say it takes up to ten times the amount of energy to reclaim the materials than it would be to mine them first hand. Despite this high energy usage. recycling is still an important process, being key to the future and it gets easier with every year with progressing methods & ideas. Electrolysis, a process which is said to be more cost effective and produces less pollutants, also known as chemical recycling is the next step in reclaiming materials from batteries.

For more information on how we can help you with recycling, get in contact with Bronneberg Recycling Machines & Services today.  

How To Dispose of Batteries