Here's how battery recycling works - and why you should be doing it
Sometimes it can be tough to keep your carbon footprint to a minimum, and if you’re a battery user this can be a pain.
Most of us know that as convenient as they are, batteries are an environmental disaster. The chemicals in most batteries contribute headily to the destruction of wetlands and lakes and lower the overall quality of the soil. Batteries do not belong in a rubbish tip with all your food scraps and crushed up VB cans.
So how can you, the average battery user, recycle them properly?
Firstly, for smaller alkaline batteries, you can find a store that has bins specifically allocated for dead ones. You’ll mostly find these at your local supermarket and some electronic stores. Aldi is also known for having battery recycling bins. Of course, these bins are only for smaller AA, AAA or 9 Volt alkaline batteries, the small ones you use in flashlight and smoke detectors.
Recycling lead-acid batteries is not simply a matter of throwing them away, as there are only four parts of them that are actually recyclable, that is the plastic case, the lead content, the sulfate crystals, and the electrolyte. There is a whole de-construction process involved to ensure it is recycled properly.
In order to recycle any type of larger lead-acid battery, you may have to go to a proper recycling center.
Our friends at Century Yuasa have hundreds of battery recycling centers all over Australia. They’ll recycle your batteries free of charge. If you’re nowhere near one of these centers, you may want to contact a local electronics store as sometimes they accept old batteries for recycling.
It is important to recycle these batteries as their materials are 98% recyclable, so it's a waste to throw them out.
Currently, there is only one lithium battery recycling plant in Australia, and it’s in Gisborne. As with alkaline batterers, often supermarkets, Aldi stores and most electronic stores (such as JB-HI-FI and The Good Guys) will have allocated bins for people to dispose of their dead lithium batteries in.
There is currently a lack of solutions when it comes to large-scale lithium battery e-waste. The CSIRO has stated that only 2% of lithium-ion battery waste is recycled. This is a major shame as 95% of their materials are recyclable.