Battery recycling is a recycling activity that aims to reduce the number of batteries being disposed as municipal solid waste. Batteries contain a number of heavy metals and toxic chemicals and disposing of them by the same process as regular household waste has raised concerns over soil contamination and water pollution. Recycling starts by sorting batteries into chemistry. Collection centers place lead acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride and lithium ion into designated drums, sacks or boxes. Based on battery type, recycling procedure will be changed. The following is the most common type of batteries.
Nickel-cadmium: When NiCd batteries are disposed of carelessly, the metallic cell cylinder eventually corrode in the landfill. Cadmium dissolves and seeps into the water supply. Once contamination begins, authorities are helpless to stop the carnage. Our oceans already show traces of cadmium (along with aspirin, penicillin and antidepressants) but scientists are not certain of its origin.
Nickel-metal-hydride: Nickel and the electrolyte in NiMH are semi-toxic. If no disposal service is available in an area, individual NiMH batteries can be discarded with other household waste in small quantities; however, with 10 or more batteries, the user should consider disposal them in a secure waste landfill. The better alternative is taking the spent batteries to a neighborhood drop-off bin for recycling.
Primary Lithium: These batteries contain metallic lithium that reacts violently when in contact with moisture and must be disposed of appropriately. If thrown in a landfill in a charged state, heavy equipment operating on top could crush the cases and the exposed lithium could ignite a fire. Landfill fires are difficult to extinguish and can burn for years underground. Before recycling, apply a full discharge to consume the lithium content. Primary lithium batteries (lithium-metal) are used in military combat, as well as in watches, sensors, hearing aids and memory backup. A lithium-metal variety also serves as alkaline replacement in AAA, AA and 9V formats. Li-ion for mobile phones and laptops do not contain metallic lithium.
Lithium-ion: Li-ion is reasonably harmless but spent packs should be disposed of properly. This is done less to retrieve valuable metals, as is the case with lead acid, than for environmental reasons, especially with the growing volume used in consumer products. Li-ion contains harmful elements that are at the toxicity level of electronic devices.