How Old Batteries Are Recycled

Modern alkaline batteries are as common as leaves on trees. You can easily purchase them anywhere, at any time. Install them in your electronic devices, use them up, and perhaps even appreciate the convenience of disposable batteries as a handy power source. And then…

What happens next? It’s probably safe to say that most people toss them in the trash without a second thought. That’s understandable. These miniature power sources have essentially been designed and marketed as disposable for years. While it may seem that discarded alkaline batteries are generally benign, it’s unnecessarily wasteful to trash the metal and other compounds used to make these batteries.

You may not be aware that alkaline battery recycling is an option. Or, perhaps you simply don’t know what to do with used batteries. Of course, there are several types of “disposable” batteries available to consumers. Lithium batteries, carbon zinc, and alkaline batteries are among the most common.
Few lithium batteries are being recycled at present, mainly due to the difficulty in the recycling process for this type of batteries. With the exception of alkaline batteries, recycling for other types of batteries are also hit and miss.
Nonetheless, the spike in need for disposable batteries means that there is a spike in need for recycling these batteries on a large scale. It also means that we should be conscious of which batteries are recyclable -- and which batteries would wreak havoc on our landfills -- when deciding which batteries to purchase.

Recycling Alkaline Batteries

It’s important to make an effort to recycle disposable batteries, no matter their composition. The disposal of popular batteries -- including alkaline batteries -- in landfills has actually been outlawed in a few parts of the US.  Eco-conscious consumers may opt to store them in a drawer somewhere, until enough have accumulated to justify a trip to the recycling center, or the rare collection bin — if they can locate one.

Once the batteries have reached the recycling plant, they are sorted into different types: alkaline, lithium, zinc carbonate, and more. Because batteries look very similar on the outside despite their internal composition, some batteries end up in the wrong pile for recycling and end up disposed of incorrectly. This is why it is key to sort your batteries correctly at home or even stick to only purchasing one type of battery when possible. Our recommendation is to stick to alkaline batteries, as the recycling process for these is more stable and widespread around the world.

What Can We Do with Used Batteries?

Once batteries have been sorted, they are broken into its core components. The core components are then used by a multitude of companies to create an endless number of products. While the components of each battery will vary per its battery type, the most common byproducts include:

  • Steel - Used for pans, golf clubs, and more
  • Zinc oxide - Used in non-toxic sunscreens
  • Lead alloys - Used to create new batteries

So How Do We Recycle Batteries?

When you choose to buy batteries, it’s important to collect them, store them properly, and then drop them off at a local recycling center from time to time. Or you can choose the convenience of a subscription plan from Better Battery Co. We provide a convenient box to help you keep batteries safely stored and organized. As batteries are used up, simply reinsert them, upside down, into their original slots until you have a full box of spent batteries. Then, using our handy packaging, drop them off at your local FedEx collection point, and ship them to our recycling partner for free.

At the  recycling center, we shred them, and then recover components, such as zinc, potassium, and manganese salts, for additional uses. Zinc-manganese concentrate, for example, can be processed into beneficial substances, such as crop fertilizers. As essential micronutrients, these natural elements help crops grow better and faster. Other components can actually be processed into additives used to strengthen roadways.  

Imagine that! Your old, spent batteries do not need to end up in landfills. Rather, they could help grow crops to feed a hungry world, or pave the way to a brighter future for us all. Are you ready to power your world with positivity?

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