Business Ideas: How to Start a Battery Recycling Business
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how can I start a battery recycling business? How lucrative is the business? These are some of the questions you may want to know. Batteries are made in different shapes and sizes, specifically designed for their intended application, such as their use in home electronics, vehicles, toys and cell phones. Even though every battery has a definite shelf life, some can be recharged. This means that they last relatively more prolonged than the single-use types.
The names were given to batteries usually denotes their chemical composition, it’s the principal factor that determines how they should be handled and disposed of because of how harmful the content of the batteries is to the environment. But through recycling batteries, you can earn money.
These days, we assume that we can determine what goes in the bin and what doesn’t. Nevertheless, that isn’t entirely true; individuals are still confused when it comes to deciding what can and can’t be recycled primarily when it concerns batteries and e-waste. Which type of batteries can be recycled, and which can’t? What should you do with old laptops and cell phones? And can damaged batteries also be recycled?
To clear up the confusion, we have all the answers to your questions in this article, read on to find out.
Global Battery Recycling Market
According to an analysis by the publisher, the global battery recycling market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 9.10% during the forecasting period 2020-2028.
The increasing concern among countries on battery waste disposal coupled with strict rules & regulations is expected to boost the global battery recycling market. The growing adoption of electric vehicles that majorly use lithium-ion batteries is another major factor in driving the market growth. Moreover, a high recycling gap between batteries, the government subsidies provided to encourage battery recycling and the declining lithium-ion battery costs are creating immense opportunities for the battery recycling market.
However, technological advancements in battery technologies are restraining the global battery recycling market’s growth. Besides, lack of supply chain and low yield in battery recycling is affecting the market growth. Also, safety issues regarding the storage and transportation of used batteries are challenging the development of battery recycling market.
Battery Recycling Business Opportunity
We are surrounded by a world of electronics where many items we make use of must have some electrical aspect in it.
Likewise, there are several electronic devices that we use, they are usually portable, and this implies that powered mainly by batteries.
Precisely, a battery is a device that consists of one or more electrochemical cells that generate electric energy which is used to power electronic devices.
Typically, there are two types of batteries which are used most of the times.
- Non-rechargeable battery: this can only be used once when exhausted.
- Rechargeable battery: this one can be recharged using an electric source of power when exhausted.
Nevertheless, specific electronic devices use both kinds of batteries, although to operate bulky electronic devices or perhaps a particular type of devices, we often use rechargeable batteries.
Few examples of electronics that use rechargeable batteries are laptops, Smartphones, batteries used in vehicles, and invertors etc. However, when these batteries are used for a very long time, they lose their character, becoming useless. Before, these kinds of batteries used to be discarded whenever they’re depleted, but nowadays they get recycled when finished for future purposes.
Since several devices use batteries to run, the batteries waste creation is enormous. Thus recycling keeps taking place. If investing in battery recycling businesses catches your fancy, then starting this business could prove to be quite profitable for you.
What is Battery Recycling?
Battery recycling involves converting an initially used battery to a usable battery electrochemically.
Even though we use batteries every day, only a few of them can be recycled appropriately, and amongst this few only few can be profitably recycled.
The chemical material in the battery generates its energy. Hence, after constant use of the battery, the chemical material is depleted; after that, the battery is now useless. Through recycling the basic structure of the battery is unchanged whilst only the chemical aspect is being recycled for future purposes. Not all batteries can be recycled, but if you do so, it will be time taking, expensive and not very ineffective. Therefore, only a few types can be recycled and still be efficient.
While producing the batteries, the manufacturers concentrate mainly on the present usage and not really on the recycling so the chemicals which were used in making the batteries cannot survive to recycle.
As we previously stated, now every battery can be recycled, so only a few kinds of battery can be easily recycled.
- Lead-acid automotive batteries have the highest percentage of recycling success, of about 90 per cent.
- Whereas recycling lithium-ion batteries are quite expensive so it isn’t generally used for recycling.
We have listed various kinds of batteries that are commonly used and how they can be recycled.
Types of Batteries
The first classification of batteries that was done previously was based on rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries. Here are a few types of batteries.
- Nickel Metal Hydride
- Lithium-Ion Battery
- Lead Acid Gel
- Nickel Cadmium
- Alkaline and Carbon Zinc
- Silver Oxide
- Large Flooded Cell
- Nickel Iron
- Steel Case
- Wet Nickel Cadmium
- Un-interruptible Power Supply
- Lead Acid
- Hybrid Automotive
The names of batteries listed above consist of both the rechargeable and non-rechargeable and also recyclable and non-recyclable. You should be able to distinguish which batteries can be recycled.
What Type of Batteries can be recycled?
We now agree that not all kinds of batteries can be recycled and amongst the list of batteries that can go through the recycling process, not all produce profitable returns after being recycled while some are significantly less efficient.
Here are the types of batteries that can be recycled
Recycling of Lead Batteries
Lead Acid or lead batteries are among the generally used batteries. They hold a distinction in recycling rate to nearly 100%, which is the highest in any recyclable batteries. Even though Lead batteries can be efficiently recycled, recycling them is also cost-effective.
Since recycling of batteries can only occur when it is deemed profitable place, lead batteries hold a distinction in it since they are their recycling process is cheap.
Many manufacturing companies engage in this recycling business, and they do this by buying the already used lead batteries from their customers or by giving a discount in the new batteries they buy whenever they return the old ones. They extract the remaining lead and use it in producing the new ones.
Recycling of Nickel Cadmium Batteries
Nickel Cadmium Batteries used to be among the most popular used batteries in earlier days, however in the 90s the sale of these batteries declined after NiMH, and Li-ion batteries took over the market. Due to its hazardous nature xx the United States, EU and several other countries have banned its sales.
These batteries have to be disposed of appropriately though most of them are usually recycled.
Since the use of these batteries has declined, so has their recycling.
They are harmful to the environment and aren’t used anymore, but when they are used, the recycling process is very complicated, so it advised that these batteries shouldn’t be recycled.
Recycling of Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries
Although these batteries don’t pose a danger, they are still hazardous. But they can be recycled so long serious care is taken.
Nowadays, many nickels are used in manufacturing steel; this has made it a cheap source of nickel. However, many countries have banned the use of NiMH batteries.
Since these batteries and their recycling process needs special care, their recycling has become very costly.
Hence, before investing in recycling NIMH batteries try analyzing NiMH recycling business and ascertain how profitable it would be.
Recycling of Primary Lithium Batteries
Nowadays, Lithium batteries are usually used, and they are very reactive whenever they make contact with moisture.
These batteries have to undergo strict recycling process, and specific rules should be followed while recycling it.
Two processes of recycling take place.
The first process:
- The physical process: this involves dismantling the battery and separating the lithium from the storm.
The second process;
- The chemical process: this involves the chemical aspect were precipitation, leaching, refining as Wells as a pyrometallurgical process occurs. The process demands great care and accuracy.
Before you start the battery recycling business, you need to analyze and determine the cost of recycling and the profitable market for sale if recycled products.
Recycling of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are currently among the commonly uses batteries, and their usage has become widespread in these present times. After these batteries are being used, they are preferred to be recycled. Notwithstanding, when packed, Lithium-ion batteries are non-toxic; however, when opened, they become toxic.
The large numbers in which they are being manufactured and are dumped has become an issue. Many of them are being recycled not because of profit to be made, but to avoid the hazardous effect it can have in our environment.
Many companies have financially supported the recycling of these batteries. It would be best if you did proper research before going into the recycling business.
Recycling of Alkaline Batteries
As a result of the low mercury contents, alkaline batteries are very safe for usage as well as a disposal well. Even though an already used alkaline battery comprises of zinc and manganese extracting them from the battery wouldn’t profit much since removing them involves a complicated process and the profit obtained is relatively low except the recycling is done on a larger scale.
But you can still research their recycling process, and if you are okay with the profit gotten, then you can go ahead.
Since you’ve known what type of batteries can be recycled, let’s discuss how these batteries are recycled and describe the precise process of reclaiming a battery. However, the recycling process depends on the battery to be recycled.
This is a Brief Explanation of the Process of Battery Recycling
Steps involved in battery recycling are as follows:-
Battery recycling involves many steps which are very complex and needs standard professional handling. The battery contains heavy metals and toxic elements, thus, and you must handle them carefully.
Most batteries can be recycled; however, what distinguishes them from each other is that some can be readily recycled while others require a complex mechanism to recycle.
Enumerated below are different kind’s types of batteries and their recycling process.
Recycling Process for Lead Acid Battery
To recycle lead-acid battery, you will have to take five steps.
- Collection:The first step involves collecting the waste batteries (already used batteries) and handling them to the facility centre where they will be recycled.
- Crushing: In the second step, the batteries are crushed by hammer machines; this breaks the batteries into tiny pieces.
- Sorting:This process involves the separation of heavy metals and toxic substance from plastic waste.
- Sieving:It involves scooping of polypropylene pieces from the heavy metals, leaving only the heavy metals such as the lead left. In contrast, the polypropylene pieces are then recycled and used to produce new battery casings.
- Pyro metallurgical and Hydro Metallurgical Process:in this last and final step the metals are being extracted from their ores. Heavy metals such as lead can be removed using hydrometallurgy where aqueous chemistry is used.
The process is then completed by pyrometallurgy; these aids in restoring the heavy metal in its physical and chemical form. This process involves calculations, smelting, roasting and refining to produce the end product.
Other elements of the battery, including the plastics, are set apart and used for recycling or are then sold to other recycling agencies as raw materials. Typically these plastics are used for recycling and producing new battery cases that can be used in the future.
The lead recovered is cleaned to remove every impurity. Afterwards, they are melted and cooled down; the lead plates are made that are then used to create new batteries and other products. The battery acids are further utilized because of the sodium sulfate gotten from it, which is typically used in detergents.
Recycling Process for Zinc-Carbon or Zinc-Air Batteries
These batteries are recycled up to 99%, here the battery is separated into three main components, and from there they are further recycled. The three parts include:
- Plastic and Paper
- Manganese and Zinc
Through a mechanical process, they are further dismantled, cleansed and recycled to obtain new products.
Recycling Process for NiMH, Nickel Cadmium and Lithium-Ion Batteries
Almost 99% of the components that make up these batteries are recycled using several processes.
Firstly, the plastic is being separated from the battery and then recycled for further uses. Likewise, heavy metals are also extracted from the battery through a High-Temperature Metal Reclamation process.
The processes recover certain metals like iron, nickel, chromium, manganese, etc. Through methods like pyrometallurgy, the later process occurs, and the elements that were extracted are cleaned and used for making new batteries. Note, a significant amount of care is needed while executing this process because of the toxic and hazardous nature of the batteries.
Recycling Process for Lithium Batteries
The lithium batteries are firstly recycled by using the hammering process where the battery is being broken into tiny pieces. The plastic components are then separated from the main features of the battery.
The parts retrieved are then immersed in acidic water to neutralize the electrolyte contents. The ferrous and the nonferrous metals are separated. Other elements are also removed and used for making new batteries.
Lithium and carbon metals are recycled and used in making foils and lithium ingots. Practically, all the elements retrieved from the battery are also used, making it 99% recyclable.
Recycling Process for Mercury Batteries
Mercury batteries are always recycled in a regulated temperature because of the incredibly high level of toxicity in the battery. In a very controlled environment, the recycling process kicks off when the pyro and hydrometallurgical process occurs.
The mercury extracted is then used in producing new mercury batteries, whereas the remaining products are used about their value.
Recently, the usages of mercury-based batteries have declined. Mercury battery recycling is also a costly process as it has much more loss than profit.
Since you’ve understood the process of recycling batteries, understanding what kind of equipment is needed to recycle such batteries be is necessary.
Equipment used for Battery Recycling
To start your battery recycling business, you need to set up a recycling plant at your chosen location. The plant will include several machines that will be used in the recycling process.
The type of machine you need will be determined by the kind of batteries you chose to recycle. If you need to use the pyro and hydrometallurgical processes, then you need different sets of machines.
Listed below are a few types of equipment you will need in general:
- Ingot Casting Machine
- Blast furnace
- Rotary Furnace
- Battery breaking machines, segregator, lock cutter, box crusher, removers
- Lead smelting and refining pot
- Ingot and Jumbo Ingot Mould
- Re-melting, refining and alloying kettles with the pollution control system
And numerous other essential equipment according to the requirement.
Many of these machines and equipment are very expensive; thus we suggest you rent them to prevent over budget.
Financial Aspects of a Recycling Plant
Finance is essential when starting any business, so battery recycling isn’t an exception. Before investing even the smallest amount of money in your business ensure you have plans of getting back the returns.
Though Battery recycling is lucrative, getting returns isn’t very simple and easy. You need to be precise about the type of batteries you intend recycling.
Recycling some batteries are many costs; hence, your profit would be minimal. Honestly, the recycling plant business needs a massive amount of capital as an investment.
Cost of Battery Recycling Machinery
About 15-20% of the total investment will be spent on types of machinery and installation of the recycling plant. Whereas 3-5% of the investment will be spent on maintenance. Thus, to reduce the expenses, renting a few of the machines if you can is an excellent idea
Other Costs like;
- Installation of plant,
- the land where the plant will be installed,
- supply of water,
- human resources,
- office equipment,
- License, etc.
How to Manage the Capital for Battery Recycling Business?
It is now evident that a large amount of capital needed. The best solution is obtaining a loan from the bank to start your business successfully.
Although the capital can be reduced as long as you manage by reducing the cost of land where you will run the business, cost of machines and plant, lower operation cost, increase productivity and maximize profit.
You can sell the recycled battery and its product to a company that works in the battery manufacturing field; however; you c can maximize profit by making and selling products directly.
There are several types of small products that can be made out of it. You can also try recycling precise parts that will need a smaller investment. An already used battery in its normal state is sold at a lesser price compared to a battery that is already broken, and its piece is dismantled where only the metal part is eventually sold. There are many ways of reducing your expenditures and increasing profit.