According to science, recycling can be defined as the process through which a used substance is made fit for reuse again. Recycling ensures that the environment is safe by taking materials which could have been hazardous to the environment and transforming them into harmless substances which people can use again. Due to the toxic nature of the elements and compounds that are used to manufacture batteries, effective recycling procedures are very vital because they reduce the toxicity of the batteries in a way that will not harm the ecosystem and the environment at large. If cells were not to be recycled, water, land, and air would be at stake because of pollution. The points below explain in details about how to recycle batteries.
1. Alkaline Batteries
Even though alkaline batteries are not so hazardous to the environment as the mercury batteries, they are usually recycled to prevent them from becoming environmental pollutants. The alkaline batteries are generally passed through complex grinding and neutralization chemical processes that retrieve zink and manganese from them. Although the recycling process of alkaline batteries is not a viable activity, countries like California usually recycle them to protect their environment from contamination. Once zinc and manganese are retrieved, they are reused to make more batteries.
2. Silver Oxide Batteries
Silver oxide batteries are used in small electronic devices such as watches. The cells contain small traces of mercury. The batteries are usually recycled to recover the mercury element from them. Mercury is then used in other applications besides being used in the manufacturing of more batteries. Most counties have regulations that control the rate at which mercury is disposed to the environment because mercury is a hazardous element.
3. Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries
The electrolytes in nickel metal hydride batteries are semi-toxic. The semi-toxic nature of the cells means that they can be disposed of with the usual household trash. However, when there are many such batteries, they should be taken to a nickel recycling plant where the nickel element is retrieved from the cells. The nickel can be used to make more batteries or to electroplate other metals to prevent corrosion.
4. Lead-Acid Batteries
Lead acid batteries are used in UPS batteries and car batteries among other applications. Lead acid batteries are recycled by crushing them into small pieces, neutralizing the acidic electrolyte and separating the constituent elements from the lead. The retrieved components are used to manufacture more new lead-acid batteries. Lead is also used to house radioactive materials to prevent the radiations from escaping into the environment.
5. Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are also recycled. The cells are first of all discharged, then disassembled, then crushed before being taken through hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy where the constituent elements are retrieved. The lithium-ion batteries contain useful metals such as aluminum and copper which are used in a wide range of applications. The cells also contain rare earth metals such as nickel which are used to manufacture more new batteries.
In conclusion, the dangers that are associated with the above batteries such as environmental pollution, cancer, and heart diseases are usually minimized by the recycling processes. Therefore, understanding how to recycle batteries to keep our environment safe and healthy is essential. The recycling processes should not be ignored because it is through such processes that the ecosystem is maintained in a secure and stable state.