All collected batteries are taken to Sortbat in Tienen, where they are sorted through an automated process.
First of all, all large batteries and packs are removed as well as possible. Any bags containing batteries are cut open and emptied onto the belt conveyer.
The batteries end up on a belt conveyor and all the special batteries such as lead-acid batteries, battery packs from drilling machines, computers, mobile phones, audiovisual equipment, etc. are removed manually. Sometimes we also get items that have nothing to do with batteries such as cans, food scraps, paper and other kinds of domestic waste. They are removed and – naturally – sorted in accordance with the rules. Needless to say it would be better if we didn’t have to sort such types of waste in the first place. Once the manual sorting is done, it is time for the mechanical and automatic sorting.
With the mechanical sorting, a vibrating sieve sorts the batteries according to size.
Automatic sorting is the final step in the sorting process where the length, weight and the magnetic resonance of the batteries is determined. Based on these three factors the chemical composition can be determined. Now we know which type of battery we are dealing with and we can send them to the proper processing unit for further recycling.
The batteries are subdivided into 7 different chemical families and each of these gets recycled according to a specific process.
- Alkaline and carbon-zinc
- Lithium primary
- Lithium rechargeable
- Nickel cadmium
- Nickel metal hydride
- Lead-acid batteries
- Button cells
This sorting process is performed with 99.7% purity. This is of key importance because the purer the sorting process, the purer the basis for the recycling process and the purer the raw materials that are recovered.