With the popularity of electric vehicles growing explosively by the day, the pile of spent Lithium ion batteries is also growing simultaneously. If the current trend of handling these spent batteries goes on, most of these batteries will probably end up in landfills. However, most of the parts of these batteries can be recycled and reused. These batteries contain valuable metals and other materials that can be recovered, processed and put to some or the other use. Lithium battery recycling would help reduce the environmental impact on the nature and improve the security of the supply chain.

What are Lithium ion batteries?

Lithium ion batteries were introduced in the 1970s. These batteries use lithium as the electrolyte and primary cathode. These batteries were primarily used in laptops, consumer electronics, phones, tablets, etc. These are also widely used in electric vehicles. Lithium ion batteries are fast gaining popularity due to their long-term performance, high power density and high energy.

Disposal of these lithium ion batteries leads to generation of electronic waste that comprises of toxic substances. Many people are still unaware of these facts and throw away the used batteries without giving a second thought. This article aims to throw light on the benefits of recycling your used batteries, thus contributing to the ecosystem.

Benefits of Recycling Lithium ion batteries

Environmentalists have a long list of benefits of recycling lithium ion batteries, some of which have been enlisted below:

  • Recovery of non-renewable materials – The raw materials used to produce lithium ion batteries include valuable metals such a nickel, lithium, zinc, mercury, cobalt, silver and steel to name a few. Most of these materials are non-renewable and go waste if not properly recycled. Besides being no longer available for use, they also impact the environment negatively. We can recover most of them by recycling old and discarded batteries and put them to use.
  • Reduced risk of fire and other accidents – Although battery explosions are rather rare, but they are a possibility that is best avoided. With a vast number of batteries being discarded, the occurrence of fire may prove to be fatal for everyone. It might become difficult to control such fires in the landfill. Some types of batteries have more chances of catching fire as compared to others and must be treated or disposed off carefully. It is best to recycle the damaged batteries to minimize the risk of fire and explosion.
  • Reduced cost of new batteries – Recycling old and damaged lithium ion batteries can directly impact the production cost of new batteries. How? Well! The metals and other materials recovered from the recycled batteries can be forwarded to the manufacturing units for further processing.  This brings down the production cost significantly and ensures that the new batteries are available at competitive prices.
  • Batteries are recycled easily – Recycling of lithium ion batteries is quite simple. Various collection points have been designated at places like your local supermarket or your retailer. You can simply leave your battery at the convenient collection point so that it may be recycled.
  • Appropriate disposal of harmful chemicals – Lithium ion batteries contain many harmful chemicals that might prove hazardous for human health. If a damaged battery is left unattended at any place in the house, it may give off some harmful gases that are not good if inhaled by humans. The acids and heavy metals present in the battery may also leak into the soil, leading to soil and water pollution. Materials like Cadmium, lead-acid, lithium ionare among the most dangerous pollutants in the environment and can linger in the air, water and soil and prove harmful in the long run. To avoid all these things, it is advisable to get the damaged battery recycled and behave responsibly.
  • Reduce the costs to local government bodies – Like any other recycling, battery recycling also reduces waste operation cost and benefits the local government bodies. 
  • Conservation of Resources – Battery manufacturers use raw materials that are non-renewable and very expensive to mine. The mining of these metals may also result in release of toxic material into the air. Moreover, many workers often work in dangerous conditions that sometimes prove fatal for them. Recycling your used batteries leads to conservation of natural resources by reducing the ever-growing need of raw materials.
  • Abiding by the Law – Recycling of used or damaged batteries has been made compulsory by the government. Disposing off the battery correctly ensures that you abide by the law and follow all rules and regulations laid down by the governing authorities. If you fail to comply by these regulations, you may have to bear the consequences by facing substantial fines. 
  • Alternate source of income – You can even get paid for these used lithium ion batteries. Many of the household items have these batteries such as alarm clocks, mobile phones, electric tools, trucks, fire alarms- the list is endless. Recycling batteries is a smart way of reducing costs and increasing your profit. The batteries that might be scrap for you are very valuable for recyclers and scrapyard owners. They are ready to pay for these batteries any day, so before throwing these batteries in trash, contact one of them and earn some extra cash on the go.

Final Thoughts

The huge amount of electronic waste generation is driving researchers to find environmentally sustainable strategies for dealing with such waste. Even though the awareness of benefits of recycling lithium ion batteries is growing by the day, only about 5% of the batteries are being recycled because of economic, technical and other factors. Its high time that we stand up and take necessary action to save our environment in whatever way we can. Let us begin with disposing all electronic waste generated at home responsibly and ensuring Li ion battery recycling. 

Recycling lithium ion batteries involves special techniques and equipment and should be handled by trained personnel only to avoid any mishaps. Defective batteries should ideally be stored in an anti-static bag and stored in a cool and dry place till it is recycled.