What do Batteries do to the Environment if they are not Properly Recycled?

What do Batteries do to the Environment if they are not Properly Recycled?

Auth Anushka Agarwal | Jun 05,2020

In true words, we are living in a battery-driven society. Right from cell phones to laptops and other electronic devices used in children’s toys and cars, modern lives are all operated using batteries. It will be difficult to survive in a world, where there was no battery, no power storage, or the convenience of staying away from the electric sockets whilst using our tech devices. 

But, these batteries are not just used in consumer goods. They are used in the power grid, keep the hospital equipment working, and the trains all ready for measuring the tracks. If you have a landline solution, then it is because batteries are used to power these phone lines. But, did you ever consider the damage done by the batteries to the environment or human health when they are disposed off? 

How do these batteries work?

Before a battery was invented, power generation required a direct connection with the source of electricity. That is because electricity cannot be stored. Batteries are used to convert chemical energy into electrical energy. It consists of two opposite ends, the anode, and the cathode. This creates an electrical circuit with the help of the chemicals called electrolytes. So, when the device is plugged in to charge, the chemical energy is converted to electrical energy and from there, it travels into the device such as cell phone. 

How do batteries affect the environment?

The exact combination and the number of chemicals inside a battery differ with the type of battery used, the brand manufacturing it, etc. The list of heavy metals used in AA or AAA rechargeable batteries includes cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, lithium, and electrolyte. However, when you throw them in the household trash, batteries just end up in the landfills. As the metal in these batteries corrodes, the chemicals leach into the soil and then make their way to the water supply. Eventually, and after some time, they reach the ocean. Since the lithium in the batteries is a volatile compound, it gets more fierce when exposed to the bare environment. 

Furthermore, according to a study, the lithium used in batteries can cause landfill fires that can burn underground for years. It also releases a lot of toxic chemicals into the air, which increases its exposure or the risk to human life even more. 

How these batteries affect human health?

According to the agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, cadmium and nickel are very well known as human carcinogens. Lead has been connected to birth defects and neurological and developmental changes. Mercury, on the other hand, is highly toxic, especially in vapor form, which is why the government, across the world, has banned its use in battery making in 1996. However, negligible amounts of mercury traceable to other materials used in the manufacturing of batteries can still occur, but they do not pose any threat to human health. 

What does it teach you?

Even if you do not think about alkaline batteries, rechargeable batteries contain dangerous chemicals that allow it to run for a longer duration than its previous products. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that these batteries are recycled. Be it your phone battery or your laptop battery, it is important that it goes first to the recycling unit and then to the landfill. 

The batteries used in cars, the lead-acid batteries, can be recycled through the local or state hazardous waste programs. Furthermore, automotive parts sellers do accept the old car batteries to send to proper recycling authorities. 

The single-use batteries or the non-rechargeable batteries contain a large amount of mercury. Even after banning mercury, the alkaline batteries are not safe since they last for only a few months, disposed as waste, and they lay up in the landfill sites for a very long time. Also, it is very challenging to find recycling programs. The local municipal recycling services take them but it’s important to know if they are being properly secured. 

Final Words 

There was a time when there were only some battery manufacturers in the market. But now, times have changed. There are several good and worthy battery suppliers that are providing affordable, powerful, and more energy-efficient solutions for household needs. Smartcell batteries include both alkaline and rechargeable solutions. You can recharge those batteries about 1200 times which is three times more than the competitors, at a cheaper price. So, if you are looking for rechargeable solutions for your devices, then Smartcell can be a worthy companion. 

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