Did you know that zinc, iron, manganese and even plastics are recovered from alkaline and carbon-zinc batteries? Afterwards, these raw materials can be used or a host of finished products:
- iron for a variety of applications
- zinc for roofs, windows, pipes and fences
- chemical products for the galvanic industry
- slug for road construction
- fuel for cement factories (Recyfuel – plastics & paper)
Button cells follow a slightly different recycling path because the first step consists of distilling the mercury, as prescribed by law, and the remainder is then recycled. With button cells it is primarily the metal components that are recovered and subsequently reused as a raw material in several industries.
The most important raw materials to be recovered in the recycling process of nickel-cadmium batteries are iron, cadmium (NiCd) and nickel. The calcium from the batteries is used for manufacturing specific nickel-cadmium batteries and for the production of ferronickel.
When nickel metal hydride batteries are recycled, we are able to recover the iron, nickel and cobalt content.
When recycling lead-acid batteries the first step is to remove the battery acid. Next the batteries are melted in an oven where the plastic serves as fuel together with cokes. The lead that is recovered is refined and used to manufacture new lead-acid batteries or is used as protection in radiotherapy sessions or when taking X-rays.
Rechargeable lithium batteries are a very popular type of batteries for a variety of portable devices. New types of rechargeable lithium batteries are marketed almost every year and as a result, the recycling technology must be updated on a regular basis. Early-generation lithium batteries contain fairly high cobalt concentrations but in most of the latest models this is no longer the case.
One of the possible recycling processes is as follows: first water, organic fractions and solvents are eliminated through the process of pyrolysis. The pyrolysed materials are ground and sieved, primarily separating carbon, graphite, iron, steel, oxides and hydroxides. The metals (iron and steel) are separated from the oxides and hydroxides (copper, cobalt, aluminium and lithium) through magnetic separation. The metals are then reused as raw materials in a broad range of industries.
Bebat ensures that only the latest and most effective recycling technologies are used (provided they are not overly expensive) with the aim of recycling a maximum quantity of material with maximum environmental benefits. Bebat only uses government-approved recyclers that meet the strictest standards. Every year, Bebat submits a detailed report to the governments to determine whether the prescribed recycling efficiency has been obtained and the right processes have been followed.