What are batteries?
Batteries are mini chemical reactions rather than things which hold electricity. When a connection is made, this chemical reaction makes the power. For this reason, batteries contain lots of chemicals and metals which could cause pollution if not managed properly.
We each use about ten batteries every year. If this sounds like a lot, this is because batteries are used for lots of things like remote controls, watches and clocks, smoke alarms and toys. We don’t really notice batteries until they run out, but they are everywhere.
Wow fact: In the UK, we throw away over 600 million batteries every year.
Why is it important to recycle batteries?
Batteries contain many different metals and chemicals, these have been mined and transported from all over the planet.
On average, 25% of the battery is made up of steel. 60% of the battery is made up of a combination of earth elements such as zinc, manganese and potassium. The remaining 15% by weight is made up of paper and plastic. By recycling batteries these valuable resources can be used over and over again and save new ones from being sourced.
How are batteries recycled?
There are battery collection containers in most shops which sell new ones. You can take them to a recycling centre and sometimes offices and schools also collect batteries. Some councils even accept them in your household recycling collection.
Sorting batteries before recycling helps the recycling process. This is because batteries are made from many different chemicals such as lithium-ion, zinc or nickel cadmium. Sorting batteries into their different chemistry types means more of the original material can be recovered to make new products.
There are different ways of recycling batteries but the aim is always the same – recovering the raw material used to make the battery so that it can be used again to make something new.
Watch a great video on the process of recycling batteries.
What else can I do?
- Avoiding using batteries is the best thing we can do; instead plug electrical equipment into the mains electricity
- Use rechargeable batteries wherever possible - you can even buy a solar powered recharger!
- You could even try to buy appliances that use renewable energy - a wind-up radio or torch, dynamo bicycle lights or a solar powered calculator.