Batteries/Miscellaneous Ask Experts Alkaline Dave 01

Topic Selector

Q? Tell me more about Alkaline Battery Recycling. Recently a press release was issued stating that Alkaline battery recycling is beginning. How are the batteries being recycled and what is recovered?(06-02BD75-14)

A: Alkaline batteries are, by far, the largest single type of batteries sold to consumers in the U.S. and most likely the World.  Until now it has never been realistic to consider recovering the materials within the battery because of the low value of the materials. Alkaline batteries contain zinc, manganese, carbon, plastic, paper, electrolyte and metal.  The new process focuses on the recovery of the zinc, manganese, and metal.  The batteries are first ground into small pieces, thus exposing the active materials on the anode and cathode.  All of the materials are then put into a process to mechanically and chemically release the zinc and the manganese and convert them into a slurry.  This slurry is concentrated into a paste by eliminating the majority of the water.  The metals are recovered through standard mechanical techniques and sent for resale to either a scrap yard or to a primary smelter.  The concentrated zinc and manganese paste is sent to another primary smelter that focuses on the production of zinc and manganese.  The sale of all of the chemicals does not yield a profit because the materials recovered must still be refined and purified. (As I mentioned, these materials are very inexpensive when new, hence the low value of the recovered material.)  There is a cost associated with the recycling effort and it is more expensive than other disposal options (most recycling processes are...).  My opinion is that this is truly recycling, and for the volumes of batteries used by consumers, it must be done.

On a lighter note:  Toby reminded me of a very funny story about a very religious couple that wanted to buy a dog of the same religion as theirs: Baptist.  They went to the religious pet store and were shown a very cute Baptist dog.  He was asked to fetch a Bible and off he went returning shortly with a Bible.  He was asked to look up a particular chapter and verse and immediately using his little paws with great dexterity, found the specified chapter and verse.  The couple was impressed and bought the dog.

When they arrived home, some friends came over and the couple put the dog through the same regime.  The friends were greatly impressed, also, but one of them asked if he could do standard dog tricks.  The couple didnít know but were eager to try.  They commanded the dog to sit...and he sat; lie down... and he lay down.  Then they told him to heel.  The dog stood up and put his paws on the manís head.  The man realized he had been robbed...the dog was not Baptist...he was Pentecostal.