January 26th, 2012

Recycled Batteries – Where do they go?

Modern electronics could not function without batteries, from sophisticated internal rechargeable cells to the single-use batteries in your emergency flashlight. Besides stored electrons, these batteries also contain complex compounds that can be harmful to the environment. Fortunately, many of these materials are also valuable enough to recover for use in remanufacturing.

Both rechargeable and single-use batteries may be dropped off at your local London Drugs through a program operated by Call2Recycle™ – a free battery and cell phone collection program funded by product manufacturers.

So what happens to old batteries once they leave our stores?

Lithium Ion batteries (one of the more common rechargeable types) are sent to Toxco, in Trail, BC. There, they are cooled to -325° F for safe remote-control processing. (Lithium is a very reactive element at normal temperatures, but much safer to handle when it’s almost as cold as outer space) The recovered lithium is converted to lithium carbonate for reuse. Metals recovered from other battery types at Toxco include nickel, iron, cadmium, lead, and cobalt. Plastic casings and other scrap are converted to energy.

Alkaline batteries are recycled at Inmetco, in Pennsylvania, USA, using a High Temperature Metals Recovery Process (HTMR) with other metal bearing materials, for an overall material recovery rate of 83%. Metals recovered include iron, nickel, manganese, copper, and zinc.

Ni-CAD, Ni-MH, Ni-Zn and single-use batteries are also sent to Inmetco. They are one of the only facilities in North America that recycles nickel-cadmium batteries.
Cadmium is recovered in a special furnace, where it is reduced, vaporized and condensed, producing a minimum 99.95% pure cadmium metal. This reclaimed cadmium can then be used in the production of new nickel-cadmium batteries, in the manufacture of corrosion-resistant coatings and to enhance pigmentation.

So don’t throw all that toxic, valuable material in the trash. Recycle your batteries at London Drugs. It’s well worth that little bit of extra energy.

For more information, call 1-888-224-9764 or visit www.call2recycle.ca

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