Batteries may contain harmful metals and chemicals for example nickel cadmium, alkaline, mercury, nickel metal hydride and lead acid, which can contaminate environmental surroundings if not disposed properly. For instance, when batteries containing cadmium can be used in landfills, they'll eventually dissolve and release the toxic substance that can seep into water supplies, posing serious health hazards for that population. This is why recycling batteries has become so important since it aids in preventing pollution, and also saves resources.
The Recycling Process:
To begin with, the batteries to become recycled are sorted according to chemistries for example nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride, lithium, alkaline etc. The combustible material, such as plastics and insulation, is then removed with a gas fired thermal oxidizer, which is the initial step in the recycling process. Most recycling plants have scrubbers in which the gases in the thermal oxidizer are neutralized to remove pollutants, producing clean, naked cells that contain rare metal content.
The metal within the batteries are then heated to liquefy, after they have been hacked into little pieces. Black slag left by burned out non-metallic substances are scraped off with a slag arm, and also the different alloys that settle according to weight are skimmed off. Some plants pour the liquid metals straight into (65 pounds) or 'hogs' (2000 pounds) without separating on-site, which are then shipped to metal recovery plants to create nickel, chromium and iron re-melt alloy for the manufacturing of other metal products.
Federal and state Regulations in the usa:
The Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act was passed in 1996 through the U.S. Congress which requires regulated batteries for example Ni-CD batteries and sealed lead-acid batteries to:
1. easily be removable from consumer products to make it easier to recuperate them for recycling
2. include in the label the battery chemistry, the "three chasing arrows" symbol, along with a phrase that instructs users to correctly recycle or dispose the battery
3. provide national uniformity in collection, storage, and transport
4. phase out the use of certain mercury-containing batteries