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How to Dispose of a Lithium-ion Battery – Methods and Recycling System

May 07, 2020   Pageview:2451

Lithium-ion batteries are undeniably one of the best battery technologies ever created so far. Most of the credit goes to the improved sub-types or versions of these cells, like LiPo, among others, that provide an even greater potential in energy storage systems.  

However, nothing was built to last, and like every other thing on the planet, it reaches a point where a particular battery dies and serves no purpose anymore. Even the secondary rechargeable cells, such as Li-ion batteries, have a lifespan. As long as the lifespans are; eventually, they finally come to a halt. Once the service period of these cells ends, one would be required to dispose of the batteries appropriately.  

Unfortunately, many battery users tend to ignore the importance of proper disposal of these lithium-ion batteries. They end up throwing away the cells in their trash cans, which could result in some severe risks. This guide aims at directing you through the necessary procedure of disposing of your lithium-ion cells the right way. 

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How do you responsibly dispose of a lithium-ion battery

The following are steps you can take when trying to dispose of your lithium-ion battery responsibly.  

As a consumer: 

1. Try to find a recycling center near you. 

You can opt to search for stores that collect lithium-ion batteries. These chain and big box stores collect lithium batteries and recycle them on behalf of the customers. If your luck runs out at getting the right store, you can always inquire with the local library or community center about lithium-ion battery collection.  

2. Prepare to turn in your batteries. 

Once you find the best disposal center for your batteries, you need to follow the following steps before turning them in.  

" Call the center and confirm the type of lithium-ion batteries accepted. Some centers only collect specific types of batteries for free, while lithium-ion battery types may have a fee.  

" Insulate the terminals of the battery using electrical tape. This helps prevent the discharge of current or energy that can cause sparks.  

" Place the cells in a plastic bag - If you intend to store the batteries before the official day of turning them in, then you can put them in sealed plastic bags.  

" When using a plastic bag, never place the batteries together - Lithium-ion batteries can spark or cause a fire when their terminals come into contact.  

" Place them in a cardboard box or vented plastic container when storing for extended periods. - Batteries can release gases; thus, they should be stored in a ventilated container.  

" Keep the lithium-ion cells separate from other battery types - Mixing different battery types could result in a hazardous reaction even when they are taped. 

" Store the lithium-ion batteries in a cool, dry place before disposal.  

3. Take your lithium-ion batteries to the collection site. 

Take your batteries to the collection site at the period instructed when you placed a call to the center. Also, be sure to carry enough cash with you in case the site charges any fee for lithium-ion batteries.  

As a disposal company: 

4. Ensure that the batteries are not exposed to extreme temperatures or prolonged sunlight.  

5. Avoid exposing the batteries to water or humidity. 

6. Handle the batteries with care, especially when moving a lot of them, to avoid damaging the safety devices.  

7. Avoid stacking the batteries together without a protective layer.  

8. Ensure that all the batteries are professionally discharged before moving on to the next processing step.  

9. Do not put lithium-ion batteries together with other battery types, even if they are all meant for recycling.  

How do you get serious about recycling lithium-ion batteries? 

As the demand for more lithium-ion battery-based inventions increases, so does the pile of these used and expired batteries. Analysts have predicted that by 2030, the global metrics for the amount of lithium-ion batteries could reach up to 2 million metric tons yearly. If the current trend for these lithium-ion batteries holds, most of them may end up in vast landfills even though this battery technology is recyclable.  

Lithium-ion batteries contain valuable metals as well as many other materials that can be recovered, processed, and then reused. However, despite the many benefits that come with recycling these cells, there is very little recycling that goes on today. Take Australia, for example, only about 2 - 3% of all the lithium-ion batteries are collected and transported offshore for recycling.  

One can combine many reasons why lithium-ion battery recycling has not yet been well-established universally. One of these reasons includes economic barriers when companies find out that the cost of recycling could be more than the benefits that come from it. Other factors include technical constraints, regulatory gaps, and logistic issues, among others.  

The lithium-ion battery industry has no clear path to large-scale economic recycling. This is because battery analysts and manufacturers tend to focus less on improving the recyclability of the cells. Instead, they focus more on working to lower the costs and increase the longevity of the batteries as well as charge capacity. And since analysts and researchers on improving recyclability have made only modest progress, only a few of these Li-ion batteries end up being recycled globally.  

It's about time we got serious about recycling lithium-ion batteries, and this can be achieved through the following ways. 

10. Improving the recycling methods - This includes using more profound and effective procedures as well as chemicals. 

11. Providing recycling companies with incentives and financial support to 

12. Encouraging battery users to be more active in recycling their lithium-ion batteries. 

13. Setting up more lithium-ion battery recycling plants. 

Where can you dispose of a lithium-ion battery? 

Where you can recycle or dispose of lithium-ion batteries varies depending on your geographical location as well as the state and local laws for their disposal. Typically, primary non-rechargeable batteries are harder to recycle as compared to rechargeable batteries that contain valuable metals and other materials.  

The best place to dispose of these lithium-ion batteries would be a collection/recycling center near you. Never throw the batteries in your trashcan because they can have considerable environmental risks. The batteries could spark when they come into contact with metal surfaces and cause a fire.  

Final thoughts 

Similar to many environmental initiatives, recycling lithium-ion batteries depends on the commitment of the end-user. Try to avoid disposing of the cells anywhere that are not a recycling facility. 


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