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Rechargeable battery recycling: a guide

The great part about rechargeable batteries is that you can reuse your batteries many, many times. However, at some point, their life cycle comes to an end. What happens when you throw them away? How are rechargeables recycled? Read on to find out more about rechargeable battery recycling!

Recycling batteries, reducing waste

Up to 90% of the materials in batteries can be recycled, depending on the method. By using rechargeable batteries, you already help to drastically reduce waste even more. That’s why we encourage recycling as much as possible. This is backed by the EU’s recycling regulations in 2012. In 2015, 41% of all batteries were recycled, compared to 25% in 2010 - a positive trend.

How the different batteries are recycled

eneloop batteries can be reused up to 2100 times. But what happens after that, when you dispose them? How does rechargeable battery recycling take place?

Batteries are first collected and sorted. Afterwards, batteries go through a series of processes to separate the raw materials. Depending on the battery type, an old battery will go through one or more of the following processes:

  • Mechanical separation uses brute force to shred the batteries - making het easier to separate the different materials.
  • Chemical separation uses a basic (and/or acid) solution to dismantle the different materials from the batteries.
  • Smelting: using extremely high temperatures, the metals inside the batteries melt at different temperatures.

Better battery contents

Chemicals inside the battery allow it to store energy. Some of those are potentially hazardous for the environment. Over the years, Panasonic has limited the use of hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury. A better battery not only benefits the battery life, it also helps reduce waste. Rechargeable batteries are even better, as you reuse the same cell many times - creating no waste at all.

The more batteries are recycled, the less resources are wasted and the less materials end up in the environment. You can find a brief overview of where you can do rechargeable battery recycling in Europe here.