Each battery chemistry family requires a different recycling process, as each process is designed to recover the particular materials in that battery type.The main chemical families of batteries are:-
There are others, but the list above covers the vast majority of batteries in common usage today. There are also several variations of some chemistries, (e.g. there are some 8 different primary lithium chemistries), and there is no longer any guarantee that the recycling route will be the same for each variation of a chemistry type. When batteries within a particular group are recycled, there may be a variety of methods that could be used to recover the useful materials they contain. So even if the recycling method changes, the materials that can be recovered will stay the same.
There are 2 basic types of process - pyrometallurgical (where batteries are placed in a furnace and treated thermally), and hydrometallurgical (where batteries are treated chemically to separate the materials that make them up).
Most processes designed for a specific chemistry of battery are intolerant of contamination by other chemistries, which in extreme cases can lead to significant and serious damage to the process plant. Thus is it vital that batteries are sorted and supplied to the recycling plants within the specified tolerances of that plant. (See Sort section).
The UK Battery Regulations sets targets for the ‘Recycling Efficiency’ of batteries sent for recycling. This defines the amount of useful material that must be recovered from each tonne of batteries sent to a process for recycling. Part of the requirements of being an ABTO and ABE (see Sort section) are that the ABTO and ABE ensures that the Recycling Efficiencies are met. G & P works closely with its recycling partners to ensure that the most efficient processes are used.
For more detailed information about the recycling process, please see the Battery Types section.