Batteries – what happens when you recycle them?

10 Jun 2011

Ever wonder what happens to the batteries you recycle?  Well, for heavy lead batteries such as those in cars and boats, here’s what happens, over 90% of the time!  Here’s a short video that describes the actual processing of the batteries in a bit more detail.  

Unfortunately, with other, dry cell batteries (like the kind in your flashlight, toys and watches), the track record isn’t nearly so good.  The EPA estimates that Americans purchase nearly 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year and recommends recycling them or using rechargables to keep heavy metals out of landfills and the air. Recycling saves resources because recovered plastic and metals can be used to make new batteries.

As more and more cars incorporate lithium ion batteries, recycling these is going to be the “next frontier” in this field not only to avoid pollution but also to economically recover the “rare earth metals” used in them that are difficult to find anywhere else and on which China, the world’s largest supplier, has begun to impose export limits.

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