In France, legislation obliges citizens not to throw their batteries and other accumulators in the trash. Indeed, these may contain certain substances that are dangerous for the environment and health. However, the materials that make them up have a high recycling potential.
In 2019, a publication by the Ministry for Ecological Transition mentioned the marketing of more than 1,200 million batteries and accumulators each year in France. Despite a drop in sales and a miniaturization of supports, this still represents 200,000 tonnes. However, since the 1990s, batteries and accumulators have been considered to be hazardous waste . These contain paper, plastic and many heavy metals (nickel, mercury, lead, zinc, etc.).
In Europe, as early as 1991, the authorities set up a specific collection and processing channel by recycling this type of waste. Indeed, producers have since been responsible for managing the end of life of batteries and accumulators. For users, it is also forbidden to dispose of this waste in nature or in the usual bins. Batteries can actually deteriorate under the effect of corrosion . Put in the trash, they can also end up incinerated. In both cases, these supports release heavy metals and therefore pollute the environment.
In addition to environmental pollution, batteries and accumulators can also damage health . Metals like nickel can indeed cause eczema and sinusitis. Let us also mention mercury, a source of damage to the nervous system and gingivitis, or cadmium, which is carcinogenic. Thus, the best solution to protect health and the environment is still recycling. The fact is that end-of-life batteries and accumulators still contain natural resources. However, their extraction for manufacturing is often costly and polluting. In addition, it turns out that nearly 75% of the materials making up a battery can be recycled. Thus, this represents several thousand tons of materials that can be used to manufacture various objects such as car sheets, stainless steel cutlery or even zinc gutters.
Batteries at the end of their life must therefore end their journey at a collection point . You should know that all stores selling batteries are required to offer this type of collector. However, some town halls or spaces open to the public as well as recycling centers also have them. Then, a specialized carrier is responsible for transporting the batteries to storage centers where employees sort them by type (saline, alkaline, etc.). From there, the waste is partly recycled and the rest will be kept in a final waste storage center.