Everyone is familiar with the generic situation in which the battery in a person’s car has died, leaving them stranded in a public parking lot or on the side of the road. In these cases, a person simply contacts a friend, family member, or roadside assistance company for help. They will show up with a new battery, remove the old one, and hook everything back up together again. Changing and replacing a battery in a car is common knowledge for most adults; however, knowing what to do with the used battery once its removed is not. There are several constituents inside a car’s battery that allows it to cooperate and function within vehicles. These same components are mostly chemical-based, and can be tremendously hazardous in various aspects. Continue reading to learn how to properly get rid of a used car battery, and why safe battery disposal is so important to us and our surrounding environment.
What is Inside a Car Battery?
These kinds of batteries contain several dangerous chemicals, materials, and heavy metals. For instance, a standard 12 volt battery contains elements such as lead, plastic, sulfuric acid, and more. Diesel engine vehicles, like semi-trucks and tractors, may use a 24 volt system; requiring the use of two 12 volt batteries to operate. This means double the toxins, chemicals, and heavy metals. These 12 volt batteries are made with lead plates and lead dioxide plates. These plates are submerged in an electrolyte solution made up of sulfuric acid and water. The chemical reaction of the two elements creates electrons that let them pass through conductors, running electricity to the vehicle’s engine and inner components.
When a battery begins to lose its power, it is because the acid within the electrolyte solution has reacted with the plates, changing them from lead and lead dioxide, to lead sulfate. When the battery in a vehicle is recharged, this same process is simply reversed. All these chemicals that make a vehicle’s battery function have proven useful in the automotive world, but they still need to be handled responsibility to protect ourselves and the environment from harm. One of the best ways to do this is by recycling used batteries from cars. It is the best and most responsible method to car battery disposal.
Batteries Can Be Recycled
One unique aspect of batteries is that they are almost completely recyclable. This means that nearly all of a battery’s components can be recycled and reused for new car batteries. For example, the lead is virtually one hundred percent recyclable; and can be melted down, filtered, and refurbished in new car parts. The plastic components are also completely recyclable and can be reused in other products. Surprisingly, the sulfuric acid can even be reused. It can be counteracted and purified to be released as uncontaminated water, converted into sodium sulfate (for fertilizers, dyes, etc.), or reused in new car batteries.
To recycle a used battery, simply take it to a local automotive repair shop. Most garages will accept used batteries and other vehicle parts. They can also provide replacement service for you while you are there. To be sure, call around ahead of time to find a reliable company. Some auto repair shops will pick up donated or recycled car parts. Other places to recycle a car battery include scrap metal yards, junk car lots, or junk yards. Recycling these, along with all other car parts, is a great contribution to protecting our environment and preserving our natural resources.
Consequences of Improper Car Battery Disposal
Now that we know what’s inside a car’s battery that makes it so toxic and dangerous, we can begin to discuss how these chemicals can affect our homes, health, and surroundings. Improper disposal can lead to chemical outflows that will contaminate the air, water, and soil. This is why car batteries are classified as hazardous waste. Not only can irresponsible disposal harm the Earth, it can be detrimental to our health as well. This is why it is vital to wear gloves and safety goggles while handling car batteries; new or used. If relocating them, be sure they are in an upright standing position to prevent seepage during transportation. Ingestion of any of the chemicals can be very dangerous. If you come into contact with any inner component of a car’s battery, it is advised to wash your hands immediately. If a child or pet touches these chemicals, it is important to wash them right away as well.