Batteries are the most common form of household toxic waste. Although they are recyclable, approximately 8000 tonnes of batteries end up in landfill annually. Batteries are not only expensive, but they contribute to the greenhouse gases in our environment. Many are made from heavy metals and harmful elements such as nickel, cadmium, lead and mercury, which can pollute soil and water and harm wildlife and humans.
There are two types of batteries. The primary batteries are only single-use and can not be recycled, while, secondary batteries are rechargeable batteries that can be used repeated.
With the rise of so many electronic devices that rely on rechargeable batteries such as laptops, mobile phones, cordless phones, and cameras, we need to consider recycling them once they lose their charge. People who recycles batteries are doing their bit to save the environment.
Are rechargeable batteries worth it?
Did you know that rechargeable batteries could save you thousands of dollars compared to disposable ones. Let’s just assume that an AA rechargeable battery can be used 400 times. Then this is 400 disposable AA batteries that you do not need to buy. Not only are you going to save money with rechargeable batteries, you will also reduce the amount of waste to landfill. It is definitely worth it!
Some of the common rechargeable batteries used today include lithium-ion (LiOn), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries.
A pre-charged rechargeable NiMH battery called Sanyo Eneloop battery can be used over 1500 times! Imagine how much money you will save in your pocket with this type of battery.
As I did a search in Amazon for these types of batteries, it appears that there are newer versions available that allow you to use it up to 2100 times, which is pretty amazing. You can do a search yourself with Amazon, which is located on the right hand side for your convenience.
How do batteries recharge?
Recharging occurs when electrical current is applied to the battery, reversing the chemical reactions that occur during battery use.
How do batteries impact on our environment?
Batteries can harm the environment in three different ways:
- Production: Mineral resources must be extracted to produce batteries. Mining requires a large amount of fossil fuels to be burned, which contributes to pollution and global warming.
- Distribution: Fossil fuels are burned to create energy for transport of batteries to all kinds of places such as warehouses and workplaces. Plastic packaging is also made from fossil fuels and not good for the environment.
- End-of-life: When these batteries end up in landfill, it is possible that heavy metals and toxic chemicals inside can leach from their casings and pollute land and water that are harmful to life. If these batteries are placed in the household recycling bin, contents from inside the battery can leach and contaminate other items in the recycling bin.
What can we all do?
Choose rechargeable batteries whenever you can and be sure to dispose of them appropriately at a recycling facility.
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