Recently, I wrote on and their recycling. This time I’ll cover cell phone batteries which are growing concern and environmental hazard. Read on.
The disposal of cell phone batteries has become a very big issue in the United States and that is because more and more handsets are released on the market, featuring batteries that not only last longer, but batteries that can also be charged much faster.
This in turn causes a lot of people to dispose of their old handsets along with their batteries in an irresponsible way that only leads to higher environmental pollution levels.
According to the EPA, in 2009 there were more than 141 million cell phones retired from services, but only 8% of those have been disposed of properly. However, the rest of the over 130 million mobile phones have been discarded improperly which means they are a great danger for both human health and the environment.
Even worse is the fact that this problem is not a new one and despite that, there are still no special programs in place that could help recycle batteries that are deemed obsolete or non-usable.
Learning More About Mobile Phone Batteries
Cell phones use li-ion batteries which means they can be recharged every time their energy depletes. Lithium-ion batteries are the best type of rechargeable batteries currently used and that is because size wise they aren’t too large, they’re light and they also offer a high energy density.
Added to that the zero loss of charge when not in use and the no-memory effect, they are currently the best type of batteries used by millions of portable devices around the world.
In order for a li-ion battery to work, it needs to have 3 working components, including the electrolyte, the positive and the negative electrode. While positive electrodes are made of either spinel, polyanion or layered oxide, the negative electrode is made of graphite.
The older versions of these types of batteries couldn’t be charged as quickly as the modern types and most of the times you would have to wait for around 2h until you could get a full charge. However, mobile phone batteries have advanced a lot in the last few years and now you can find models that can be charged in as little as 3/4 of an hour.
If you’re lucky, you may get a 90% charge in just 10 minutes depending on the type of battery you have. Since cell phone batteries have advanced so much, this is one of the reasons to why so many of them have accumulated in such a short period of time.
One thing to keep in mind is that li-ion batteries may experience thermal runaway if you overcharge or overheat them. If you keep heating them up to high temperatures, the cell will rupture or will be completely destroyed. And while many of the battery’s components are environmentally safe, its outer shell isn’t, since it’s made of metal.
The Reason You Should Recycle
The epa has deemed batteries of any kind to be hazardous waste and in order to protect the environment, they should be disposed of properly and that doesn’t mean along with your regular household waste. Every part of the cell phone battery can be reused in order to make new ones, so it only makes sense for you to devote some time and energy into making sure they will not end up in landfills.
For example, when batteries end up in landfills, over prolonged periods of time the nearby groundwater will be contaminated by the metal content. Even if they are incinerated, the danger will still be there. That is because the ash of the incinerated batteries contain metal contaminants which are very dangerous for humans, as well as animals and the environment.
Where Can You Recycle Your Cell Phone Batteries
The majority of municipal drop-off and curbside recycling programs aren’t properly equipped for collecting cell phone and rechargeable batteries in general. Because of that, the task of recycling mobile phone batteries falls on your shoulders so you need to ensure they end up to the proper recycling channels.
For instance, Call2Recycle is the only company in the country that allows you to drop off your batteries to one of their 30.000 locations across the United States where they will eventually be collected and recycled. No matter if you’re an individual, a business or maybe a retailer, you can easily take advantage of their services.
After the batteries are dropped off, they will be collected and shipped to the sorting and recycling facilities. There, they are sorted by the type of metals they contain and by chemistry type. Next, each type of battery will be processed by content type and used for making a new product.
In some cases though, there may be no rechargeable cell phone battery collection locations in your area and if that is the case, then you just need to call your cell phone manufacturer or provider. Most of them have mail-in programs which means that you can easily ship them your batteries and mobile phones and they’ll make sure to recycle them.
Sell Them On Ebay
A very effective and simple way of making sure the batteries and unused cell phones won’t end up in landfills is to sell them on eBay.
There are a lot of people who need them and some of these individuals are even going to pay you so you send the batteries over for recycling. Before you deal with any user on eBay, read their profile description carefully and check their feedback as well.
In the last several years, the number of mobile phone batteries has increased exponentially, especially due to the fact that more and more cell phones are released on the market and these models have far better performing batteries than the previous generations.
Therefore, if you ever need to replace the battery of your cell phone or just discard it, do it properly and get in touch with a specialized company that can help you with this. Call2Recycle has a wide coverage in the United States, so it’s best to check their drop-off locations online by inputting your address on their official website.
This way, you’ll help protect the environment and also reduce the chances of toxic materials entering the water stream.
Interesting infographic by EPA called The Life Cycle of a Cell Phone: