lots of batteries.
Facts about battery waste

Battery Waste Facts

Batteries power our lives in many ways. Rechargeable batteries keep our phones, laptops, and cars running, while single-use batteries are required for remote controls, toys, and various other devices. When any type of battery eventually runs out of juice for good it creates a common type of hazardous waste.

The UK battery market is valued at close to £3 billion and is expected to grow with an increased reliance on technology and electric vehicles. What happens to all those dead batteries from cars, mobile phones, and TV remotes is important, as they create huge volumes of hazardous waste that must be managed safely.

Get a greater understanding of the power of battery waste and why reducing and managing it responsibly is vital with these battery waste facts and statistics.

What causes battery waste?

The main cause of battery waste is simply when it runs out of power. For single-use batteries such as alkaline and zinc batteries used in TV remotes, torches, and toys, eventually they reach the end of their lifespan and have no further use. Rechargeable batteries may also reach a point when they can no longer be recharged.

Those are unavoidable causes of battery waste. However, accidental damage such as dropping a device or having a car accident can also make the battery unusable and create waste. Leaks and damage due to improper use and batteries overheating or being kept in the wrong conditions may also lead to the end of their life.

How to reduce e-waste

Facts about battery waste

Pretty much every car, phone, laptop, and any other type of portable electronic device relies on some sort of battery for it to work. Some of these batteries will last years before they need replacing while others might only seem to last a few months. It can depend on the size, kind, and quality of the battery.

Eventually, batteries run out for good and must be disposed of and recycled properly. You can’t just throw them in your general waste bin as they’re a type of hazardous waste. Find out more with these battery waste facts:

  • Batteries are the most common type of household hazardous waste
  • They contain various metals including lead, mercury, and lithium
  • Lead-acid batteries are the most used battery in cars
  • Recycling batteries prevents them from ending up in landfill where the heavy metals and chemicals they contain can escape and pollute nearby ground and water
  • Old batteries pose a fire risk if they’re submerged in water or damaged – from April 2019 to March 2020 there were 260 fires caused by ‘zombie’ batteries in recycling or waste management facilities
  • Most batteries are recyclable, including – household batteries (including ‘button’ batteries in watches), laptop, mobile phone, power tool, and remote control unit batteries, and car batteries
  • The average person in the UK uses 21 batteries a year
  • When batteries are recycled properly up to 95% of their components can be used to make new batteries or other materials

Battery waste statistics

Batteries are used in homes and businesses around the world for many different purposes. Auto, IT, and manufacturing industries especially rely on batteries of various shapes and sizes to operate but they’re also responsible for plenty of waste. Some countries are also better at recycling batteries than others.

These battery waste statistics offer an overview of the issue around the world:

  • In the UK over one year around 17,386 tonnes of portable batteries (excluding automotive and industrial batteries) were collected for recycling
  • This meant the UK had a battery recycling rate of just 34%
  • Unfortunately, around 20,000 batteries end up in landfill sites across the UK every year
  • European countries with the best battery recycling rates are Belgium (71%), Luxembourg (63%), and Hungary (53%)
  • Across the EU in one year around 242,000 tonnes of portable batteries were sold
  • Almost a half (48%) of portable batteries are recycled annually in the EU
  • In the USA around 3 billion batteries are thrown away every year, creating an estimated 180,00 tonnes of hazardous waste
  • It’s estimated that Americans throw away 160 million phone batteries each year as well

How should I get rid of old batteries?

To get rid of an old battery from your home responsibly take it to your nearest battery recycling point. Many supermarkets and electronics shops now have battery bins near the entrance or the tills. Check what’s accepted but most allow you to recycle alkaline batteries, mobile phone, and laptop batteries.

If you’ve got an old car battery you could drop it off at your local garage. Otherwise, check if your nearest household waste recycling centre (HWRC) accepts the types of battery waste you have. Businesses must arrange the collection of any waste batteries by licensed waste carriers, as they’re a type of commercial waste.

At Business Waste we can collect and recycle any type and amount of battery waste from your business – including old car batteries, those from laptops, machinery, and any electronic devices. Get a free quote for battery waste collection from your business today – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online.

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