Do I really need to change all the batteries of a device at the same time? Yes, because batteries in circuit are at the level of the least efficient battery. Ideally, all batteries should be replaced at the same time with identical batteries (same brand) and purchased at the same time (because the batteries do not have an unlimited life) to ensure consistent performance.
Reusing disposable batteries: When a battery stops working, it is not necessarily completely discharged. According to Duracell, 1/3 of the discarded batteries would still have 40% of their energy! So you can “recycle” your batteries by placing them in more energy-efficient devices (remote control). You can possibly invest in a battery tester that can tell you precisely about the remaining energy (about € 10).
Beware of “ready-to-use” rechargeable batteries : Rechargeable batteries will discharge fairly quickly when not in use (waiting in the store). As a result, when you buy “ready-to-use” rechargeable batteries, their performance may be disappointing at first glance. Do not get discouraged, just recharge them after your first use so that they regain their full capacity.
Preserve batteries: There are three factors that can damage them during storage: heat, humidity and shock.
Which battery charger to choose? It is not mandatory to use a charger of the same brand as the batteries. However, attention must be paid to the type of charger (a Ni-MH charger will only charge Ni-MH batteries) and the speed of charging (not all rechargeable batteries are compatible with fast charges). For a first purchase, the easiest way is to buy a pack “batteries + charger” and then buy the same batteries thereafter. Pay attention to the load times announced on the packs because often this duration is valid for only 2 batteries. The user will generally recharge 4 batteries. Note that most chargers actually recharge 4 batteries in less than 4 hours.
How to reduce battery consumption?
By their composition, the batteries are not ecological, it is therefore necessary to limit their use to the bare necessities. Here are some ways to make a responsible purchase:
- Go to devices that work on mains: radio, alarm clock. This also has an economic interest since according to the ADEME, using energy sector is almost 3,000 times cheaper than buying disposable batteries.
- Go to devices that have a mechanical function: a bike dynamo for example.
- Avoid energy-consuming objects if this is not necessary: Children’s games often include batteries (sound and light), it may be wise to limit this type of toys that can be annoying (redundant noise) .
- Beware of hidden batteries in gadgets: A musical greeting card or a light pen contains poor quality batteries with a very short life span. In addition, these batteries usually end up in the trash and do not benefit from recycling.
Recycling: What happens to used batteries?
In France 40% of batteries that are sold are actually recycled (45% target). This does not mean that 60% is not recycled. Some batteries are still in operation, others sleep in our drawers or in our devices. It is estimated that 25% of batteries end up in the trash (Src: Corepile). They are then buried or incinerated and valuable raw materials, which are strategic metals (nickel, zinc, manganese) are lost. The first step is to avoid throwing your batteries in the trash (think of batteries “hidden” in toys for example). Note that the risks to the environment are lower than before because some heavy metals such as mercury have been banned.
How to recycle batteries? It’s very simple, all battery sellers have the obligation to collect used batteries. When making a new purchase, the good idea is to bring your used batteries to bring them back to the store. Classically, you will bring your batteries to the supermarket near your home in the dedicated collection point. You can recycle a battery at any time, the expiry date plays only on its active performance.
What happens after the collection point? If no battery is manufactured in France, the vast majority of batteries are sorted in France by approved organizations like Corepile or Screlec. In these sorting centers, batteries are classified manually by family. The recoverable materials (metals) are then separated from non-recoverable materials (plastic packaging). We then obtain black mass (metal powder) which will be used to manufacture new equipment (gutters, stainless steel). The recoverable part of the batteries is between 50 and 80%, which is far from being negligible in the whole country. Over a year, the 33,000 tons of batteries represent 4,500 tons of zinc and 5,500 tons of manganese to recover.