Battery Recycling in South Africa
As a nation, we are doing incredibly well when it comes to battery recycling in South Africa. In fact, according to First National Battery, up to 90% of all lead-acid batteries are recycled in our country. That statistic is pretty impressive considering that less than 50% of all of our glass and all our plastics, are recycled!
Below is your guide to the different types of batteries, what they contain, and how to effectively recycle them.
The different types of batteries
Aside from the three categories of batteries – household, industrial and vehicle, there are two main types of batteries, namely rechargeable and single-use, non-rechargeable batteries.
Rechargeable batteries include
- Lead-acid gel – small to medium sized dry-cell batteries used mainly for golf carts, electric bikes and scooters, wheel chairs, portable tools etc. Safety: As a toxic heavy metal, lead can cause a short-circuit fire.
- Lithium-ion– a small dry-cell battery used in cell phones, laptops, Hybrid automobiles and smaller electronics. Safety: Non-toxic
- Nickel-cadmium batteries – small dry-cell battery also used in cell phones, laptops, portable electronic devices and medical equipment. Safety: Toxic heavy metal – never incinerate.
- Nickel Metal Hydride – a small dry-cell battery used in cell phones, laptops, power tools Hybrid automobiles and smaller electronics. Safety: Non-toxic
Non-rechargeable batteries include
- Lithium – small dry-cell battery used in watches, cameras, small electronics, alarms, pacemakers, remote car keys. Safety: Non-toxic but can explode if short-circuited.
- Alkaline & Carbon Zinc – dry-cell batteries commonly used in toys, watches, cameras and handheld electronic devices. Safety: Non-toxic
- Silver oxide – small to large dry-cell battery used in hearing aids, watches, cameras aircraft. Safety: Non-toxic
- Mercury – small dry-cell battery used mainly in medical devices, military safety, watches and cameras. Safety: Highly toxic vapors – should never be incinerated.
- Zinc Air – small dry-cell batteries for hearing aids, watches and electric vehicles. Safety: Non-toxic
Lithium batteries, in particular, are extremely flammable, so extra care needs to be taken when both using and recycling them.
The importance of recycling batteries
The material names alone are enough to set off the alarm bells!
Just by looking at their names, it becomes evident that batteries are comprised of various hazardous ingredients which could prove incredibly damaging to the environment when dumped. If we do not recycle them, the hazardous materials such as lead or mercury are sure to wind up in our rivers, soil, and air. However, the good news is that most batteries are 100% recoverable for better disposal.
How to recycle batteries
You have two options when it comes to battery recycling in South Africa. You can either sign up to make use of a special battery collection service, or you can drop the batteries off at the various battery recycling centres or recycling points scattered across the country.
Major retailers such as Pick n Pay and Woolworths have recycling bins placed prominently at many of their stores, with special battery recycling bins.
If you are uncertain as to where to find appropriate battery recycling centres and points in your area, refer to Postwink’s List of Recycling Collectors for a company near you, or have a look at the map put together by the Sustainable Seas Trust .
Finding recycling points for batteries and various other recyclable materials will effectively reduce your carbon footprint going forward.
Postwink also manufactures bins for battery collection – ask about our Battery Ecocylinders ! These will help you store your household batteries in between drop-off or collections.
Be sure to contact Postwink today for more information.