By Raj Kumar
Batteries are a very prominent and valuable commodity for powering up gadgets, especially in this day and age when we are accustomed to carrying electronic equipment around everywhere in our backpacks and pockets, on a routine basis. We can find batteries in everything from cell phones to laptops, digital cameras to children’s toys, and the need for them is only increasing. In addition, due to the depletion of combustible fuels like petrol and diesel, the world is moving on to the EV segment for mobility with a prime mover as Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Despite the ease they provide, batteries are not without flaws, particularly when it comes to the environment.
With growing consciousness about the negative consequences of deteriorating environmental circumstances, the subject of “sustainability” has emerged as one of the most pressing issues that must be addressed. One of the critical measures that conscientious organizations have decided on, to help the sustainable environment, is the move from dumping battery waste to recycling it.
Batteries’ Long-Term Environmental Impact
Batteries have the ability to transform chemical energy into electricity over time. The chemicals are held within the compartment of the battery, and it is only when the battery is plugged into an electronic device that it begins to generate electrical power. Unfortunately, the compounds used in this process, such as lead, lithium, mercury, and cadmium, are poisonous, corrosive, or otherwise dangerous.
Strict rules on battery manufacture ensure that the ecosystem is not affected and that these hazardous substances are safely confined within the battery. However, difficulties might develop when batteries’ chemical energy is lost and they no longer function. People frequently dispose of batteries in their domestic rubbish, which can end up in a landfill. These batteries will gradually degrade, allowing the materials within their cylinders to leak out. As a result, the environment will suffer for many years.
The Advantages of Battery Recycling
The main advantage of avoiding disposing of batteries in the waste bin or pit is that the chemicals stored in their compartments will not leach into the environment. Furthermore, more than 55 % of a battery can be reused. Steel, zinc, brass, and other materials included in battery cells can be removed and reused after being processed at a recycling facility.
Recycling batteries prevent a slew of potential environmental issues and concerns, such as water pollution, heavy metal leakage from landfills, and exposing the ecosystem to powerful acids and lead. The acids in battery packs can burn human and animal skin and cause considerable damage to the ocular tissue. Batteries disposed of at a landfill can also combust due to high waste temperatures, releasing pollutants into the air and causing a fire that can be extremely toxic to both the environment and people.
Battery Waste Recycling: Arising opportunity and a necessity
The demand for Electric Vehicles (EVs) has been already there in the market and will create a pool of batteries that will be at the end of their life soon, ready for market opportunists. As per a report by JMK Research, the capacity to recycle these batteries is comparatively low, and it will form a remarkable $1 billion opportunity in the emerging markets. Furthermore, the Li-ion batteries from EVs will contribute a major part to the recycling market from 2022-2030. Also, The Energy Storage mission of Niti Ayog estimates the Li-ion recycling market to fulfil 160GWh of worth requirements for the country by 2030.
The appropriate recycling of batteries necessitates extensive education offered by municipalities that run recycling programs. People must be informed on how to properly recycle their batteries and provided with support from recycling facilities. Understanding the necessity of recycling batteries and educating the masses on how to recycle them will result in long-term environmental benefits as well as less dependence on landfills. Batteries are inevitably significant in our technologically driven society, and many of us would struggle to live without them, but convenience does not have to result in environmental or health damage.
(The author is CEO, Deshwal Waste Management Pvt Ltd (DWMPL). Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)