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The relative contributions to the environmental impact values for AA-sized NiCd batteries are further shown graphically in Figure 7 as functions of both battery

2,500

2,000

High Performance

Low Performance

Cobalt Cadmium Nickel

High Performance

Low Performance

Cobalt Cadmium Nickel

2,000

Percentage of NiCd Batteries Recycled

Figure 7. The Effects of Recycling, Performance and Composition on the Environmental Impact Values for AA-Sized NiCd Batteries performance ranges, degree of recycling and the individual contributions made by the major battery metals. It is evident that high performance batteries have lower environment impacts than lower performance batteries. It is also clear that increased recycling rates drastically lower the environment impacts associated with these batteries. In the particular environmental impact analysis technique (U.S. EPA) used in this analysis, nickel contributes the greatest impact, followed by cadmium. Cobalt contributes very little environmental impact at all. The lower performance batteries are, in fact, the ones being collected and recycled today, and these results suggest that in today's situation, the most effective way to lower environmental impacts is to increase the recycling rate. Steady improvements in the performance of batteries will also mean that the batteries being produced today and collected 5 to 10 years from now will pose less risk to the environment than those being collected now. Finally, the individual environmental impact contributions of nickel, cadmium and cobalt in this example are based on assumptions and are somewhat fixed by the battery system. It probably will not be possible to vary, for example, NiCd battery chemistry in a manner significant enough to have as major an effect on total life cycle risk as the degree of recycling and battery performance have.

Conclusions

From the foregoing analysis, it is concluded that the most effective methods to reduce total battery life cycle environmental impacts are to increase recycling rates, to improve battery performance, and to lower hazardous material contents provided that this does not compromise battery performance. It is further concluded that the waste battery disposal step is, by far, the single most important factor in determining the total environmental and human health impact of a battery system over its entire life cycle. Finally, it must be noted that present-day environmental impact assessments of battery systems rely on enormous assumptions regarding battery composition, battery performance, and the environment impacts of battery materials. Until such a time as standards are developed for life cycle analyses of battery systems, it will be almost meaningless to compare battery systems on this basis, unless assumptions are clearly stated and analyses are applied in a uniform manner. It will also be necessary to accurately determine the actual contributions made in all of the various life cycle stages of a battery instead of being forced to assume that they are negligible because of lack of accurate and pertinent information.

References

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Cook and Morrow 1995, "Anthropogenic Sources of Cadmium in Canada," National Workshop on Cadmium Transport Into Plants, Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 20-21,1995.

Cornu and Eloy 1995, "Nickel Cadmium Batteries: Life Cycle Analysis in the Electric Vehicles Application," The Seventh International Seminar on Battery Waste Management, Deerfieid Beach, Florida, November 8, 1995.

Davis et al. 1994, "Chemical Hazard Evaluation for Management Strategies: A Method for Ranking and Scoring Chemicals by Potential Human Health and Environmental Impacts," Report prepared by The University of Tennessee, Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies for the Waste Minimization, Destruction and Disposal Research Division, Risk Reduction Engineering Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio, EPA/600/R-94/177, September 1994.

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Fujimoto 1999, "Collection and Recycling Activities for Portable Rechargeable Batteries in Japan," Proceedings of the 5th International Battery Recycling Congress, Deauville, France, September 27-29,1999.

Gaines 1994, "Energy Use and Emissions in the Production and Recycling of Electric Vehicle Batteries," Report of December 13, 1994, Energy Systems Division, Argonne National Laboratory, United States Department of Energy, Argonne, Illinois.

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Morrow 1997, "The abuse of life cycle analyses for comparison of battery systems," Materials Solutions for Environmental Problems, Proceedings of the International Symposium sponsored by the Materials Science and Engineering Section of The Metallurgical Society of CIM, 36th Annual Conference of Metallurgists of the Canadian Institute of Metallurgists, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, August 17-20, 1997.

Morrow 1998, "The Importance of Recycling and Performance to Life Cycle Analyses of Nickel Cadmium Batteries," 8th International Nickel-Cadmium Battery Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, September 20-21, 1998.

Mukunoki and Fujimoto 1996, "Collection and Recycling of used Ni-Cd Batteries in Japan," Sources of Cadmium in the Environment, Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris, France.

Oda 1990, "In-Ground Burial Test for Ni-Cd Batteries," 2nd International Seminar on Battery Waste Management, Deerfield Beach, Florida, November 5-7, 1990.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 1994, Risk Reduction Monograph Number 5: Cadmium, OECD Environment Directorate, Paris, France.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 1998, Towards Sustainable Development: Environmental Indicators, OECD Group on the State of the Environment, Paris, France.

Stockholm Environmental Institute 1994, Accounting for Cadmium, Stockholm Environmental Institute, London, UK.

Schuckert et al. 1997, "Life cycle engineering as an environmental management tool -Comparison of nickel and lead traction battery systems," Materials Solutions for Environmental Problems, Proceedings of the International Symposium sponsored by the Materials Science and Engineering Section of The Metallurgical Society of CIM, 36th Annual Conference of Metallurgists of the Canadian Institute of Metallurgists, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, August 17-20, 1997.

Thornton 1995, "Heavy metal migration in soils and rocks at historical smelting sites," Environmental Geochemistry and Health (1995), 17, pages 127-138.

Van Assche 1998, "A Stepwise Model to Quantify the Relative Contribution of Different Environmental Sources to Human Cadmium Exposure," 8th International Nickel-Cadmium Battery Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, September 20-21, 1998.

Van Assche and Ciarletta 1992, "Cadmium in the Environment: Levels, Trends and Critical Pathways," Edited Proceedings Seventh International Cadmium Conference -New Orleans, Cadmium Association (London), Cadmium Council (Reston VA) and International Lead Zinc Research Organization (Research Triangle Park NC).

Used Battery Collection and Recycling G. Pistoia, J.-P. Wiaux and S.P. Wolsky (Editors) ©2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

PORTABLE RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES IN EUROPE: SALES, USES, HOARDING, COLLECTION AND RECYCLING

Jean-Pol Wiaux

Titalyse SA, Route des Acacias, 54bis, CH-1227 Carouge, Geneva, Switzerland

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