Day 7. Rechargeable Batteries

Day 7. Rechargeable Batteries

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One of the 7 R’s of sustainability is REUSE, so today we are talking about Rechargeable Batteries. There’s a lot to batteries, especially when they end up in the environment, that I had no idea about until a few weeks ago after a day of research. So, what’s wrong with normal batteries?

Firstly, it takes sometimes as much as 50 times the energy to actually make a battery than the energy that battery will emit. In essence, to make one battery we would need the power of 50. So a rechargeable battery can allow us to spread that large amount of energy over a lot more use, and reduce the demand for the single-use batteries.

Secondly, they are rarely recycled. Many people don’t know how, or can’t be bothered, to recycle them. And so naturally they end up in landfill. Throwing trash into landfill is bad, but batteries contain a long list of chemicals that can be particularly bad, such as cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, lithium, and electrolytes. These chemicals then leach into the soil, and eventually make their way to streams and rivers, and out to sea. But there is another issue, the lithium that is leached can cause and fuel landfill fires.

Landfill fires:

  • I know exactly what you’re all probably thinking, how do they start? The most often way landfill fires start is biological decomposition or chemical oxidation, and if the waste can’t get rid of that heat faster than it’s being produced, there is potential for combustion. Chemicals such as lithium are a large contributor to these fires, as can help start them, and keep them going.
Image of the Nassau, Bahamas Years-long Landfill Fire. Read their full article below.
  • With rechargeable batteries, although they still use a lot of energy to produce, we can use them over and over. You may say that these batteries still need to be recharged and that uses energy, but nowhere near the amount to constantly manufacture new ones. And we’re keeping them out of landfill, anytime we can reuse something it saves that product from being destined for the landfill.

By Ollie Nancarrow

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