Batteries in good hands
Rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries should not be thrown away in the residual waste bin. They contain valuable metals and can be recycled
REMONDIS Industrie Service's subsidiary, NQR, awarded large-scale contract to sort batteries
All of us use batteries – often without actually realizing it. Batteries are not only found in remote controls but also in watches, hearing aids and cameras and, once they have run down, they need to be disposed of correctly. The residual waste bin is also not the right place for rechargeable batteries that have reached the end of their life. Both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries contain valuable metals that can be recovered and returned to the production cycle.
Nordische Quecksilber Rückgewinnung GmbH in Lübeck (NQR), a fully owned subsidiary of REMONDIS Industrie Service, is a specialist for professionally disposing of rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries. From 01 January 2012, NQR will sort over 3,000t of batteries used in devices at a sorting plant in Lübeck as well as in Loßburg in the Black Forest on behalf of the GRS Foundation (a take-back system for batteries). Twelve new jobs will be created as result of this new project. Thanks to this contract, which is initially valid for a period of three years, NQR will sort around 20 percent of all batteries used in devices that are collected in Germany and recycle them in a way that makes both ecological and economical sense.
NQR has, therefore, extended its portfolio of services to include the sorting of batteries. The centre piece of its processing activities is its worldwide unique mercury processing facility. For years now, the company has been processing products containing mercury including button cells, thermometers, rectifiers, industrial sludge, dental amalgam and other materials from its customers from all around the globe. The recycled mercury is then returned to the economic cycle. This high quality material is in high demand from producers of batteries, low-energy light bulbs, fluorescent tubes and medical devices as well as from universities and companies active in the area of science and research.
The collection and recycling of batteries is organized in Germany by, among others, the GRS Foundation, which was established by leading battery manufacturers to fulfil their product obligations for batteries in devices as laid down in the Federal Battery Law. The GRS is a non-profit organization and is currently financed by more than 2,400 producers and importers of batteries found in devices.
After the collection boxes and barrels have been picked up by GRS from the collection points, they will then be transported to NQR where they will be separated into predefined electrochemical fractions using a special process before being transferred to a suitable recycling plant. Batteries contain metals such as zinc, manganese, iron and nickel which can be reused to manufacture new batteries or in other production processes. In 2010 alone, the GRS took back more than 14,500t of used rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries. This means that each person living in Germany took, on average, 177 grams to the collection points – the equivalent of an average eight batteries. Practically 100 percent of all batteries can be recycled: only approx. 0.4 percent of all used batteries that are collected must be disposed of. There is, however, still potential in Germany to increase the collection rates of batteries used in devices. At present, less than 50 percent of used batteries are handed in for recycling. There is, therefore, the potential to double the number of batteries currently being recycled in Germany. NQR and REMONDIS are working towards this goal.