How Should You Dispose Of A Lithium Battery? It Could Be A Hot Topic If You Are Not Careful!

How Should You Dispose Of A Lithium Battery? It Could Be A Hot Topic If You Are Not Careful!

Robert Austin explains how to safely dispose of lithium batteries.

Robert Austin

I’m sure that question was not at the very top of your priority list when you woke up this morning.  But as these powerful little energy storage units are becoming more popular every day, you should know that lithium batteries need special care after they are replaced, unlike their predecessors that we all grew up with. Failure to handle them the right way can be disastrous.  Here are a few things you should know about their disposal:

  • Never throw lithium batteries or devices containing lithium batteries in your household garbage container or your recycling bin. Never!
  • Lithium batteries should be removed from the device used and taken for recycling at a hazardous waste collection location or at a retail store that features a battery collection drop-off. They do require your special attention when depleted.
  • Lithium batteries can be recycled, but only by qualified recycling centers, so it is very important for safety reasons and the economy that we all learn what to do when replacing these increasingly common but chemically different batteries.
  • There are two types of lithium batteries you are likely to come across. Both types need to be properly recycled in the same way.
  • Single-use non-rechargeable lithium batteries. These look very much like the batteries you have been using for decades and are found in cameras, watches, remote controls, smoke detectors, and games. Frequently, these will have the name lithium marked on them.!
Single-use non-rechargeable lithium batteries
Single-use non-rechargeable lithium batteries

Rechargeable lithium-poly cells. These are commonly used in cordless phones, cordless power tools, laptops, portable appliances, and larger battery-powered toys. These tend to look a bit different from the batteries you are used to seeing and often have their cells covered in a shrink-fit plastic cover and often have connectors instead of just contacts on their ends.

Rechargeable lithium-poly cells
Rechargeable lithium-poly cells

How to properly prepare, transport, and recycle a lithium battery:

  • Remove the battery from the device!
Remove the battery from the device
Remove the battery from the device
  • Cover the connector or contacts on the battery with tape!
Cover the connector or contacts on the battery with tape
Cover the connector or contacts on the battery with tape
  • Place each battery or cell in a separate and sealed plastic bag!
Place each battery or cell in a separate and sealed plastic bag
Place each battery or cell in a separate and sealed plastic bag
  • Drive the individually bagged batteries to a local hazardous waste site or event, which you can find online. Or, you can drive to a local retailer that has a bin for recycling lithium batteries. Check out Home Depot or other large hardware and electronics retailers.
Home Depot Bin

You might be asking yourself, why are these batteries becoming so popular if they require this much special treatment?  The answer is straightforward.  They have so much energy density that they allow us to do things we have never done before. We can make devices smaller and have them operate way longer than any previous batteries allowed.  And, we are just approaching the most dramatic increase in lithium battery use, which will be in electric cars and trucks!  Again, the tremendous energy density these batteries have makes them so desirable, and that is not going to change.  It is important to point out that the purpose of this article is not to scare you but to educate you on how these excellent new batteries need to be handled to minimize any risk.

Two More Thoughts On Lithium Battery Recycling

SAFETY. I have no desire to scare you, but the great energy density of these batteries is not only a blessing, but it is potentially a threat.  Improperly handled, they can be punctured or ruptured, resulting in a fire and a fire that is difficult to extinguish.  In January of this year, a New Jersey recycling company that handled recycling services for much of Northern New Jersey experienced a fire burning its facility. After a thorough examination of the site, the Fire Chief reported it was likely a lithium battery inside a bale of recycling that triggered the fire.  Fortunately, no one was injured in the fire.  But the risk is very real!

ECONOMICS.  Lithium is a rare earth element, and the largest producers are Australia, Chile, and China.  Our demand for this metal will grow almost exponentially in the next decade because of the very rapid switch over to electric-powered vehicles, which is now essentially a government mandate.  We will be building many lithium battery plants here in the US during the next few years.  But it makes no sense to purchase all our lithium from overseas when we have so much of it here, thanks to what should be a robust recycling industry right here in this country.  This diagram produced by the Environmental Protection Agency shows just how efficient recycling can be both economically and environmentally.

EPA Recycling

But we all need to do our part.  So please recycle, and do not discard, your used lithium batteries.  In preparing this article, I visited three nationally known retailers looking to find an in-store recycling bin for lithium batteries.  Only one store was even aware that there was a need for special handling of used lithium batteries….and that store had a specially marked battery recycling bin, with a plastic bag dispenser located directly inside its main entrance.  That store was The Home Depot.  So, this will be a learning experience for all of us.

Home Depot Bin

ICYMI

IBD/TIPP - Economic Confidence Collapses In America
After an eight-month spell in the positive zone, economic confidence plummets in September.
48% Oppose Rent Relief Extension: Golden/TIPP Poll
Almost half (48%) oppose extending rent relief due to the coronavirus.

TIPP Takes

U.S. Pulls Missile Defences In Saudi Arabia Amid Yemen Attacks

Saudi Air defense weapons

While tens of thousands of American forces remain across the Arabian Peninsula as a counterweight to Iran, Gulf Arab nations worry about the U.S.'s future plans.

The redeployment of the defenses from Prince Sultan Air Base outside Riyadh came as Gulf Arab countries nervously watched the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, including their last-minute evacuations from Kabul's besieged international airport.

While tens of thousands of American forces remain across the Arabian Peninsula as a counterweight to Iran, Gulf Arab nations worry about the U.S.'s future plans as its military perceives a growing threat in Asia that requires those missile defenses.

In a statement, the Saudi defense ministry described the kingdom's relationship with the U.S. as "strong, longstanding and historic" even while acknowledging the withdrawal of the American missile defense systems. It said the Saudi military "is capable of defending its lands, seas, and airspace, and protecting its people."


Japan Inks Deal To Export Defense Assets To Vietnam Amid China Worry

Japan's Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Giang shake hands in Hanoi, Vietnam,
Japan's Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Giang shake hands in Hanoi, Vietnam,

Japan and Vietnam signed a deal Saturday enabling exports of Japanese-made defense equipment and technology.

As one of the key members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Vietnam is the 11th country to sign such an agreement with Japan, at a time when China is asserting its claims in parts of the East and South China seas.

A ministry official said the accord comes as "Vietnam is diversifying its sources of defense equipment."

Vietnam has strong defense ties with Russia and relies on it for most of its equipment, including submarines and fighter jets, as it was part of the former Communist bloc during the Cold War.


Australian Uyghur Provides Emotional Testimony To U.K. Tribunal About Husband Detained In China

Ms Mezensof and her husband Mr Taher on their wedding day in Xinjiang.
Ms. Mezensof and her husband Mr. Taher on their wedding day in Xinjiang.

The quasi-legal proceedings investigate "China's alleged genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur, Kazakh, and other Turkic Muslim populations."

The United Nations, rights groups, and Western governments, including Australia, have raised concerns about mass incarceration, forced labor, and other human rights abuses against predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China's Xinjiang region.

The ABC reported in April that Ms. Mezensof's husband, Mirzat Taher, had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for alleged separatism.

Ms. Mezensof confirmed to Hamid Sabi, counsel to the Uyghur Tribunal, that Mr. Taher had been subjected to "tiger chairs," had been "psychologically abused," and had experienced seizures due to his treatment at the hands of Chinese officials.

Tiger chairs — steel chairs with handcuffs and leg irons — are used by security forces across China.


Taliban Tells China No Sign Of Banned Uyghur Outfit In Afghanistan

Suhail Shaheen (R), spokesman for the Taliban in Qatar, speaks to attendees at the Intra-Afghan Dialogue talks in Qatar's capital Doha, July 8, 2019
Suhail Shaheen (R), spokesman for the Taliban in Qatar, speaks to attendees at the Intra-Afghan Dialogue talks in Qatar's capital Doha, July 8, 2019

China brands Uyghur activists East Turkestan Islamic Movement' terrorists,' but the U.S. says the group hasn't existed in a long time.

China often brands Uyghur activists in exile as members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and cites the threat of terrorism to discredit the minority group's campaign to raise awareness of widespread rights abuses in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban'a spokesman in Qatar, said that ETIM members are no longer in Afghanistan because "the Taliban has categorically told them that there is no place for anyone to use Afghanistan against other countries, including its neighboring countries," China's state-run Global Times newspaper said in an account of an interview published Thursday.

The Taliban's statement on the ETIM follows the late 2020 reversal of a U.S. decision to place ETIM on the Treasury Department's list of terrorist organizations. The listing on Sept. 3, 2002, about a year after the Sept. 11 attacks, was seen as a U.S. gesture to enlist Beijing in the Global War on Terror.

Comments

Sign in or become a tippinsights member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.