What is it?
Batteries store chemical energy which is converted to electricity and used as a power source. Disposable batteries need to be recycled after one use, while rechargeable alkaline batteries can be recharged around 50 times and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries up to 1000 times before needing to be recycled. Automotive (lead acid) batteries, found in vehicles, equipment, and boats, can last approximately 4-5 years before they need to be replaced. Many Saskatchewan communities have options for recycling all types of batteries.
What is the issue?
Batteries contain metals that can be harmful to the environment. They can contain cadmium, lead, mercury, copper, zinc, manganese, lithium, or potassium, which are all hazardous to the environment and to human health. Technology exists to recycle nearly all types of batteries, allowing us to conserve resources.
Where can it go?
Call2recycle is one of the largest battery stewardship programs in North America.The program recycles cell phones, as well as all types of rechargeable and disposable batteries. Participating retail stores (like Staples and Canadian Tire) are provided with a cardboard box labelled "Recycle" for the public to drop off their batteries and cell phones. Collected items are then shipped to Call2Recycle’s recycling partners.
The Canadian Battery Association was established in 1970 by the manufacturers of lead acid batteries to establish a national stewardship program for end of life lead acid batteries. The program recycles all parts of the battery including the metal, electrolytes, and plastics and sells the resulting products as commodities on the market. In 2013, the Canadian Battery Association members recycled over 12.7 million kg of lead acid batteries, resulting in a 77.9% recovery rate.
Most scrap metal dealers, landfills, transfer stations, and businesses that sell automotive batteries take them back for recycling.
Batteries are a valuable resource that can be reprocessed into new products. Check out our database to find a drop-off location near you.
What happens after?
Lead Acid (Automotive): The battery is broken up and collected in a vat of water where the different materials are separated based on their density. The plastic gets scooped up, cleaned, and sent to a plastic recycler to become battery cases once again. The lead is melted, purified, and then sent to the battery manufacturers to be used in the production of new batteries.
Alkaline batteries (Household): The materials are separated, allowing them to be sold back into the market place for reuse in new products like golf clubs, pots and pans, steel bars, appliances, and new batteries.
Nickle-Cadmium: Prior to the recycling process, plastics are separated from the metal components. The metals and plastic are then recycled into new products. These batteries can be 100% recycled.
Nickle-metal hydride: Prior to the recycling process, the plastics are removed from the cell portion. The cells are used as feedstock for the stainless steel and alloy manufacturing industries. The metals and plastic are then recycled into new batteries.
How can I reduce?
Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries.
Choose batteries containing less mercury, lead, and cadmium.
Reduce the number of batteries you buy by purchasing things that plug in.