Recycling old car batteries: What you need to know

Wondering what to do with those old car batteries you are stuck with? Rather than dumping them in the garbage and in the process contributing to environmental degradation, consider recycling or repurposing them into more useful things. Here is all you need to know about recycling old car batteries as well.

How you can recycle old car batteries

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A lot of companies recycle old car batteries. Car batteries in fact, tend to have at least a 98% recycling rate which makes them one of the most recycled products in countries like the U.S.

If you are wondering how to recycle these batteries, you will be pleased to note that a lot of retailers and car battery dealers actually take back old batteries. You can easily drop off the old battery at the store while shopping for a replacement. Some dealers in fact, even offer attractive discounts for the replacement of old batteries.

You can also choose to have the batteries picked up by the HHW (Household Hazardous Waste) facility. Check around for such a facility near your home and make note of their collection or drop off dates for the same purpose.

You can also check around for recycling centers in your neighborhood that specialize in recycling car batteries or at least collect them to be handed over to the concerned centers.

Environmental Benefits of Recycling Car Batteries

Lead batteries enjoy a high recycling rate when compared to other items like paper, glass, plastic and metals like aluminum. The lead and plastic from old batteries are reclaimed from a permitted recycler and then handed over to the new battery manufacturer. New lead car batteries tend to contain at least 80% of recycled plastic and lead.

The recycling process is non-stop as well meaning the car batteries you use may have been recycled multiple times over in the past and can be recycled multiple times in the future as well. This allows the lead and plastic in these car batteries to contribute less to environmental degradation in the long run.

The Process of Recycling Old Car Batteries

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Old car batteries are sent to a hammer mill where they are first broken into pieces. The broken pieces are fed into a vat where the plastic remains at the top while the lead and other heavy materials sink to the bottom.

The plastic pieces are then scooped and the liquids are drained, leaving behind the heavy materials, including the lead. The materials are then fed into different streams to be recycled appropriately. While the plastic is washed, dried, melted and then made into small pellets, the lead is cleaned, melted and poured into ingots where it is left to cool after scooping away impurities.  The ingots are then shipped off to battery manufacturers for use in new car batteries.

The sulfuric acid present in old car batteries is neutralized to form water which then undergoes treatment, cleansing and testing before being released into public sewers. In some cases, the acid is converted into sodium sulfate which is used in laundry detergents, glass and textiles.

A few pointers to note when recycling old car batteries

Not all batteries are the same. It is essential that you learn to differentiate the batteries according to their size and chemical constituents. While typical battery sizes include AA, AAA and D, the constituents present in them include zinc, lithium and silver oxide, etc.

Group the similar batteries together and store them airtight containers to prevent seepage of the chemicals in them. Make sure that all the batteries are at zero charge before sending them to the recycling center.

Car batteries can be repurposed and recycled in a number of ways. Instead of throwing your old car batteries in the dump, consider sending them over to a recycling center so that they can be put to good use elsewhere.

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