Why do batteries need to be recycled separately?

Question from Harrison Marsh

Around 85 per cent of the weight of a battery is metal, including steel, zinc, manganese and potassium. A further 15 per cent is paper and plastic. But in among the recyclable components there are dangerous chemicals like lead, cadmium and mercury. Recycling them takes specialist equipment, but it’s worth the hassle. Lead and gypsum from car batteries can go on to power more cars; nickel from household batteries is useful for metal plating; and cobalt recovered from laptop batteries can become new electronics.

Answered by Laura Mears for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 122 

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