Batteries In Municipal Solid Waste

In order to evaluate the impact of batteries that are neither in home storage nor collected, it is necessary to evaluate the quantities of batteries present in the municipal waste streams. The mass balance of portable Ni-Cd batteries introduced into the market is presented in Figure 19.

The major flows of batteries are indicated in this figure: the quantities in hoarding, the quantities introduced in the municipal solid waste, the quantities introduced in the industrial solid waste, the quantities collected.

The large hoarding effect (75% to 80% of the batteries sold) leads to the accumulation of a large stock of batteries that are not introduced into the environment as long as they remain at end user locations.

A significant fraction of Ni-Cd batteries are collected separately. It is estimated that more than 63 % (or 24,000 tonnes/year) of the quantity available for collection are

Hoarding by End User

Available for Collection

• 2,040 Tonnes/year Collected Separately


• 400 Tonnesfyear Collected with

Industrial Waste

• 800 Tonnes/year Collected in Municipal

Solid Waste (MSW)


Figure 19. The Annual Mass Balance of Marketed Portable Ni-Cd Batteries (2000)

processed for recycling in dedicated processes for the recovery of cadmium and its reuse in new battery production.

A smaller fraction (400 tonnes/year) of portable Ni-Cd batteries collected by industrial waste management companies is either processed with industrial waste and treated for recycling in non-dedicated processes like steel and lead recycling plants, or introduced legally in landfills according to local authorization procedures.

Only a minor fraction (less than 800 tonnes/y - as estimated from measurements in three evaluation campaigns) of the annually marketed Ni-Cd batteries is collected with MSW.

The difficulty faced by any collection program (national or private) is to evaluate the exact quantity of spent batteries available for collection as it is the fraction that can be collected. Indeed, batteries kept at home or in shops that are not available for collection are not a threat for the environment as long as they remain under the property and control of their owner.

4.1. The Battery Contents of MSW

According to studies published by several reliable sources, cadmium is present in the large majority of materials that are introduced in MSW. The material composition of MSW and their cadmium contents are presented in Figure 20.

Recent studies (STIBAT-Bartels (1998) and SCRELEC-Michaux (1999)) performed on 10,000 tonnes of MSW have confirmed the low concentration of Ni-Cd battery in MSW which is in the range of 5.0 ppm expressed as a battery content. In other words, Ni-Cd Batteries represent only 0.0005 % (or 5 ppm) of the MSW content.

iSurface Modified Mat (Paper. CardBoard. Printed Mat (Cd 1 4

I [biodegradable (Plants. Food. Wood. Natural Fib (Cd « A ppm))

□Composite Materials (Plastics, rubber, molded bodies... {Cd = 5

I Synthetic Fibers (Cd = 2 ppm)

■ Metallic Parts(Fe, Ai, Brass (Cd 5-10 ppm)} & Spent Batteries

Figure 20. The Average Composition of Municipal Solid Waste and the Ratio of Spent Portable Batteries (results of measurement campaigns on 10,000 tonnes of MSW in France and the Netherlands (1999-2000)

In Europe, the average concentration of cadmium in MSW has been evaluated at 6-12 parts per million (ppm) (French Society of Public Health (1999) and Maystre L-Y. (1995)). The average cadmium contents being 13.5% for portable rechargeable Ni-Cd batteries, the contribution of these batteries to the global cadmium flow represents less than 1.0 ppm. and remains inferior to 12% of the total cadmium contents. This result is presented in Figure 21.

Cd from Ni-Cd < 1.0 ppm.

■ Surface Modified Mai. (Paper. CardBoard. Primed Mat

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