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Jul 17, 2022

Where do batteries come from? And where do they go?

Posted by in categories: materials, sustainability

Way too many batteries still end up in a landfill, though it depends on the type. While 90% of lead acid batteries are recycled, experts estimate that only about 5% of lithium-ion batteries currently enter a recycling stream. Many more lurk in drawers or end up in the trash. That’s a problem.

Why you shouldn’t throw batteries in the trash

Lithium-ion batteries can cause fires when exposed to heat, mechanical stress, or other waste materials. Once exposed, the elements contained in the batteries could leach into the environment and contaminate the soil and groundwater. While this shouldn’t present an issue at a well-managed domestic facility, exported trash might end up at a more lenient landfill. Richa et al. note that “the greater risk is loss of valuable materials.”

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