Our friends at iFixit have gotten behind a campaign to bring back removable and safer batteries. It may not work, but it draws attention to an e-waste issue that will just get worse. It also reinforces the U.S. push to ‘right to repair’ legislation.
problem is that lithium-ion batteries don’t recycle well. Yes, you can recycle them if you can get them out of the
uber glued and almost hermetically sealed smartphone or tablet cases. The
effort is just too great to justify the
The solution is to mandate removable and safer batteries.
Washington Post reporter Geoffrey Fowler revealed the dirty little secret of what happens when a lithium-ion battery is accidentally ‘crunched’ during a typical recycling process. It results in a fire or even explosion. Some 65% of Californian waste facility fires were due to lithium-ion batteries.
And when attempts are made to separate the battery pre-crunching, they often explode endangering
the workers. He says that the problem is global and has dire consequences.
Fowler says that when crushed, punctured, ripped or dropped,
lithium-ion batteries can produce what the industry euphemistically calls a
“thermal event.” It happens because batteries
short circuit when the super-thin separator between their positive and negative
parts gets breached.
But worse still is the ticking timebomb of old devices still stored in your home’s cupboards. Age does
weary them, and the potential of battery explosion increases.
iFixit says it’s all well and good for a manufacturer to
tout clean energy practices and recyclable packaging, but far too few tech
companies are thinking about realistic end-of-life practices.
Fowler says there is plenty of blame to go around.