Battery recycling

Batteries are a common item in the high tech world in which we live. Batteries themselves can be the older, low tech dry cells or alkaline cells to the more modern lithium based ones which include protection circuits and a computer chip that monitors the usage.

Note that the terms “battery” and “cell” are often used interchangeably but technically a battery consists of a number of cells.

All batteries are able to be recycled.  The recovered material may be as high as 97% of the original weight and the value of the recovered material varies from less than $100 per tonne to over $20,000 per tonne.

There are a number of environmental and human health and safety issues with batteries. They contain material that is ecotoxic, they can be swallowed by children (mainly the button cells), and they can cause fires or burns.

Batteries are sometimes subject to recalls because of possible safety issues, especially the lithium based batteries.

UN codes for common batteries

Number Class Shipping name Common name
UN 2794 8 Batteries, wet, filled with acid, electric storage Lead-acid
UN 2795 8 Batteries, wet, filled with alkali, electric storage NiCd
UN 2800 8 Batteries, wet, non-spillable, electric storage Lead-acid
UN 3028 8 Batteries, dry, containing potassium hydroxide solid, electric, storage Alkaline
UN 3090 9 Lithium metal batteries Lithium metal
UN 3091 9 Lithium metal batteries contained in equipment or Lithium metal batteries packed with equipment Lithium metal
UN 3480 9 Lithium ion batteries (including lithium ion polymer batteries) Li-ion
UN 3481 9 Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment or Lithium ion batteries packed with equipment (including lithium ion polymer batteries) Li-ion
UN 3496 9 Batteries, nickel-metal hydride NiMH
  • Class 8 are Corrosive substances
  • Class 9 are Miscellaneous

Further information