This article by Bonnie Riva Ras was originally published on Goodnet.
Batteries are extremely useful. Many ordinary household items are powered by single-use batteries including TV remotes, toys, flashlights, and even smoke detectors. But what happens when the batteries are used up and have to be replaced?
Many of them end up in the trash where the chemicals can leach into the soil causing environmental damage. Very few are properly disposed of and recycled, according to Euro News. In fact in Australia, 97 percent of alkaline batteries end up in landfills. Now, an Australian recycling company came up with an innovative way to turn old batteries into plant fertilizer.
A New Way to Recycle
While batteries can be traditionally recycled, this involves using high heats to melt the metals that can then be reused. This method doesn’t allow for the repurposing of other elements that actually have to be mined. This is allowing valuable resources to go to waste.
Envirostream – a part of the battery recycling company Lithium Australia – came up with a way to take these ingredients to power plant growth instead.
While some of the chemicals in batteries are toxic, the company engineered a new method that takes the micronutrients like zinc and manganese oxide out of the alkaline batteries by crushing them and filtering out the toxic elements.
“We have tried to find a solution for these waste batteries that’s better for the environment and creates better value,” Lithium Australia’s managing director Adrian Griffin told ABC News.
Lithium Australia (#ASX: $LIT) began field trials evaluating fertilizers blended with spent battery minerals in 2020, testing a fertilizer supplement made from the upcycled batteries on wheat and found that it compared well to commercial fertilizers reported ABC. After that, they tested the fertilizer in soil that was deficient in the minerals.
Now, according to the company, the fertilizer is being successfully used on tomatoes, avocados, and cotton crops.
Tracegrow Battery Recycling
Finnish company Tracegrow was the first to discover a method to upcycle batteries into fertilizer according to Eye on the Arctic. The company uses a solution to utilize 80 percent of the trace elements found in alkaline batteries.
“Our innovation is based totally on chemistry,” Tracegrow CEO Tatu Leppänen said in a TV interview. While other countries are working on the same field, “there hasn’t been enough benefitting of batteries in this way internationally. Finland has a high level of expertise in chemistry, which is needed in the development and innovation in this type of work,” he said.
Going from powering remotes to powering plants completes a cycle for elements that come from the earth to go back to the earth. Whether the innovation comes from northern Scandinavia or down under, recycling batteries for useful components and keeping them out of landfills is good for the planet.
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