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How we can reduce the use of batteries

A battery is a portable generator of electrical energy, which is obtained from the transformation of chemical energy. A battery does not lose its electrical charge except by the physical degradation of its components and this process is irreversible.

A battery stores electrical charge previously produced by a generator, and it loses its electrical charge constantly over time, whether it is used or not. A battery can be recharged as many times as necessary, until its structure is degraded by use.

Third option: The reality is that when the technology to perform these recycling as in the previous two processes is not available, physicochemical processes are used to reduce the impact and mobility of heavy metals. These techniques include stabilization by the addition of chemical agents that are soluble with the metals, confinement in hermetic containers and encapsulation with cement, followed by vitrification at high temperatures.

Foundation piles

Due to the lack of adequate solid urban waste (garbage) disposal sites, about 50% of batteries and accumulators are disposed of in open dumps, where it is not possible to protect the soil, air or water from the substances they contain. Batteries can be disposable or rechargeable, with a marked difference in their toxicity.

Traditionally manufactured batteries can be highly toxic if they contain cadmium, lead or mercury, while rechargeable batteries can be relatively harmless due to the type of metals they use, such as iron, zinc or manganese, and can even be valuable waste if they contain high-priced metals such as copper, silver or cobalt.

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Although there is only one place in our country, located in Mina, Nueva León, where the hazardous waste we generate, such as batteries, can be taken for final storage, there is also the possibility of recycling the metals and electrolytes they contain, with economic, social and environmental benefits for everyone.

Battery recycling

It is very important to know how to recycle used batteries, as they are highly polluting elements that are often not recycled correctly.  If we stop to think about how many things have batteries, we can get an idea of how many of them we use and generally throw away in our daily lives.

The batteries, batteries, electric accumulators or simply accumulators, are the device that store electric energy using electrochemical procedures and that later return almost in its totality. We generally understand that batteries are a finite source of energy, since they run out and are not rechargeable. Batteries, on the other hand, are usually rechargeable.

These batteries contain heavy metals and chemical compounds, many of which are harmful to the environment. It is very important not to throw them away (in most countries this is not allowed), and to take them to a recycling center. Nowadays, most suppliers and specialized stores also take back spent batteries. Some of the environmentally harmful substances depend on the type of battery used. These are some of them:

Use of batteries

Batteries are part of our daily life, they are used in toys, flashlights, watches, calculators, etc., and their use is increasing. It is estimated that in our country an average of 10 batteries are consumed per person.

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Batteries are devices that convert the chemical energy generated by the reaction of their components into electrical energy. Their essential internal parts are: a positive electrode (anode), a negative electrode (cathode) and a thin carbon rod. At least 30% of each battery contains heavy metals, such as mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), lithium (Li), lead (Pb), which are considered to be toxic to the environment and harmful to health.

Primary batteries can be sub-classified into carbon-zinc, alkaline, mercury oxide, zinc-air, silver oxide or lithium batteries. On the other hand, secondary household batteries, being rechargeable, generally contain toxic metals such as lead, cadmium and nickel.

Knowing the degree of toxicity that batteries cause to the environment and to health, in addition to the inadequate management that is given to them, the need arises to implement programs for separating hazardous waste generated from residential sources and that once collected become municipal solid waste, since the chemical properties of this waste have a negative impact on the degradation of the waste.

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