Batteries, Batteries, and Batteries!
The Battery Act of 1996
The federal Battery Act of 1996 directs the US EPA and the State of California to reduce the amounts of hazardous substances released into the environment from used batteries.
The main focus of the Battery Act is to phase out the use of mercury in batteries and to facilitate the collection and recycling of rechargeable batteries so that heavy metals can be properly recovered, rather than being released into the environment and leaching into water systems. According to the EPA, more than 350 million rechargeable batteries are purchased annually, and that number is sure to rise as consumers purchase more portable handheld devices for work and entertainment use.
The City of Moorpark provides free recycling options for most battery types (except car batteries) to make it easy for its residents to contribute to the sustainability and protection of our natural resources. State law prohibits battery disposal in the trash, as they then go straight into landfills and pollute the environment.
Common Types of Batteries & What Happens to Them?
Alkaline & Zinc-Carbon
Alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9V, etc.) are recycled in a specialized "room temperature" mechanical separation process where the battery components are separated into three end products. All of these products are put back into the marketplace for reuse in new products. These batteries are 100% recycled.
Lithium Ion & Nickel-Cadmium
Prior to the recycling process, plastics are separated from the metal components. The metals are then recycled via a high temperature metal reclamation (HTMR) process during which all of the high temperature metals contained within the battery feedstock (i.e., nickel, iron, manganese, and chromium) go to a molten-metal bath within a furnace, amalgamate, and then solidify during the casting operations. The low-melt metals (i.e., zinc) separate during the melting. The metals and plastics are then both returned to be reused in new products. These batteries are 100% recycled.
Nickel Metal Hydride
Prior to the recycling process, the plastics are removed from the cell portion of the batteries. The cells go through a drying process to remove moisture (potassium hydroxide electrolytes and water) from the cells. The drying process heats the cells in a time and temperature controlled manner. Once those cells are dried, they become a valuable feedstock for the stainless steel and alloy manufacturing industries. The metals and plastics are then both returned to be reused in new products. These batteries are 100% recycled.
The contents of the batteries are exposed using a shredder or a high-speed hammer, depending on battery size. The contents are then submerged in caustic water. The caustic solution neutralizes the electrolytes, and ferrous and non-ferrous metals are recovered. The clean scrap metal is then sold to metal recyclers while the solution is then filtered. The carbon is recovered and pressed into moist sheets of carbon cake. Some of the carbon is recycled with cobalt. The lithium in the solution is converted to lithium carbonate. The lithium carbonate is used to make lithium ingot metal and foil for other batteries. It also provides lithium metal for resale and for the manufacture of sulfur dioxide batteries.
The batteries and heavy metals are recovered through a controlled-temperature process.
If you have any questions regarding battery recycling, please E-mail or call us at (805) 517-6294.