Thursday, January 8, 2015

Recycling Batteries and The Environmental Impact

Recycling Batteries and The Environmental Impact

Batteries are vital to our daily live and there are no viable technological substitutes for batteries.  Batteries are used in everything from our cars, phones, tablets, laptops, calculators, flashlights, and much more.  Eventually, these batteries lose their charge and are usually discarded improperly.  Improper disposal causes toxins such as cadmium, nickel, lithium, and alkaline to enter into the environment.  Recycling programs are capable of reducing this environmental impact when they are utilized.
During waste treatment and or the incineration process these chemicals can get into the water table and into the air.  Initially the soil will absorb the chemicals and the effects of the pollution will not be immediately noticeable.  However, the health of animals can be negatively impacted if they consume plants that grow in the contaminated soil.  Humans can also be harmed by these toxic chemicals if they consume animals that were exposed.
Batteries are recycled in a fairly straight forward process.  First, the metal or plastic coverings are removed and melted down into pellets that will be reused in new batteries.  Next, the internal components, such as lead, are removed and also melted down into pellets.  Then, the remaining sodium sulfate, which acts as an electrolyte while in use, is removed and formed into reusable crystals.  Almost all of these components are reused for new batteries.
Ibrahim and Ilinca
Increasing the participation rate for recycling programs is the greatest challenge for most countries.  One of the ways to increase participation is to attach a deposit to each battery.  This technique mirrors that of plastic bottle recycling.  The deposit will be given to the person delivering the batteries as a way of incentivizing environmentally friendly behavior.  Until we can find a replacement for batteries we must have a way of insuring that people are keeping them out of the landfills and incinerators.

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