What happens to our ………. batteries

Welcome to the seventh in the series of what happens to our… This month we will be talking about batteries, batteries are only a small amount of our overall waste production at the University with just 2.22 tonnes of batteries being produced in the 2018/2019 academic year. This figure is minimal, not even 1% of the full total waste produced in that year but it is still a really important waste stream.

Batteries are a hazardous waste and so if they are not stored or disposed of correctly they can cause huge impacts. So in today’s blog post I wanted to go through the process that our batteries undertake so that they are safely stored and disposed of.

In our dedicated Recycling Hub at the back of the Estates building we have drums for our batteries, these are for household style batteries, think AA’s and AAA’s to name a few and then a separate container for industrial style batteries such as car batteries. When these containers are full they are collected by our waste contractor BatteryBack.

Batteryback has been running since the summer of 2008, and has now established over 30,000 collection points, these can include other Universities, Colleges, Schools, Businesses, Supermarkets etc. and since 2014 our battery collections have totalled 13.121 tonnes.

So now to the recycling process. All batteries are collected and transported to WasteCare’s battery recycling centre located in Halifax. Once they arrive at site the batteries are sorted into different chemistries such as alkaline, lead acid, lithium metal, lithium ion, nickel cadmium and lastly nickel metal hydride. During this sorted process they remove any non-battery materials that may also have been within the drum.

Once these batteries have all been segregated they are crushed before being screened further for chemical treatment, during the chemical treatment they are first washed, passed through a filtration system, acid attack removal and further filtration ready for recycling.

The left over materials consist of iron, paper, plastic and ‘black mass’. The black mass goes through a separate chemical and thermal treatment to recover the zinc and manganese all to be used again in an open loop recycling system.

Join us next month to find out what happens to our….tubes and lamps

If you have any questions or want to find out more please reach out through our Instagram, twitter or email and there is also lots of information including the A-Z of waste on our webpages.