United States – The discovery of potential environmental and human health effects from disposal of millions of rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries each year has led scientists to recommend stronger government policies to encourage recovery, recycling and reuse of battery materials.
A paper in the American Chemical Society journal ‘Environmental Science & Technology’ points out that Li-ion batteries have become mainstays for powering everything from smartphones to components in jet aircraft, with global sales approaching US $8 billion per year. The short, two- to four-year life span of Li-ion batteries in portable electronic devices makes a huge contribution to electronic waste, the fastest-growing form of solid waste.
Scientists wanted to see whether potentially toxic materials leach out and become a health and environmental threat after disposal. Their research showed that Li-ion batteries from mobile phones would meet federal government definitions of hazardous waste because of their lead content. ‘These findings support the need for stronger government policy at the local, national and international levels to encourage recovery, recycling and reuse of lithium battery materials’, the report states.
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