Eco-Friendly Guide to Recycling Old Batteries

lead acid batteryAs humans are becoming more aware of their effect on the environment around them, new methods are being used to elongate the sustainability of the Earth’s precious resources. Batteries use many of these resources, including important materials such as lead, lithium, alkaline, and zinc. At a recent battery conference, a U.S. Army general said that half of the batteries discarded still have 50% of their energy left, and can be reused. However, many do not understand the process behind battery recycling, or even which batteries can be recycled. Below are all the different types of recyclable batteries, and how they can be reused.

Lead Acid Batteries
These are most often found in automobiles, power industrial equipment, back-up lighting, battery energy storage systems using UPS batteries, and alarm systems. Most retailers who sell these batteries will also have a system that recycles your old unit after lead acid battery replacement. Today, more than 98% of all battery lead is recycled, and a typical new lead acid battery contains 60 to 80% of recycled lead and plastic. During the recycling process, the battery is broken down into pieces and places into a vat, where the lead and other heavy metals fall to the bottom, where they can be collected for re-use.

Primary Household Batteries
These are the batteries most commonly found being used in a household appliance. This includes 9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA, button and some cylindrical and rectangular battery types. There are many places that take recycled batteries, including multiple mail-in services. The typical process for these batteries is to use a mechanical separation process that divides the battery into the different recyclable materials.

Rechargeable Household Batteries
There are four types of rechargeable batteries that can be recycled: nickle-cadmium, nickle metal hydride, lithium ion, and small-sealed lead. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation uses its Call2Recycle! program to offer various ways to recycle old rechargeable batteries, depending on the type you bring in.