Back from the Dead

Battery Solutions in Howell recycles spent batteries with startling efficiency.


Published:

Battery Solutions in Howell is the only battery recycler in the country. Nearly everything in a battery is recycled, including plastic, steel, brass, zinc, and manganese.

Ever wonder what happens to old batteries? Thomas Bjarnemark, CEO of Battery Solutions in Howell, operates the only battery recycler in the United States. With a second location in Brighton, the company takes in huge industrial batteries, tiny AAA alkalines, and pretty much every other kind of battery in between.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each year Americans throw away more than 3 billion (or about 180,000 tons) of batteries. Bjarnemark has bigger plans for all those spent power units. “In most states, it’s legal to put alkaline batteries in the landfill,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”

At Battery Solutions, the goal is to break the batteries down and reuse everything. According to Bjarnemark, the company strives for an unattainable Recycling Efficiency Rate of 100 percent — meaning everything is completely recycled, resulting in zero waste. Last year, Battery Solutions had an RER of 97 percent.

For Battery Solutions, the whole process starts with sorting. “There are different ways to recycle different kinds of batteries,” Bjarnemark says, “so we have to manually sort all the batteries first.”

After the batteries are sorted, the alkaline units go through a shredding machine, where they’re pulverized into a black powder. The shredder also separates plastic, steel, and brass. The powder that remains is mostly zinc and manganese.

“The zinc and manganese are sold to make fertilizer for farmers,” Bjarnemark says. “It’s going right back into the food supply.”

The bits of steel are collected and sold to steel mills, while brass and bits of plastic are sold and reused. Nothing gets thrown away.

For some types of batteries, the process can be messier. “Some batteries, you could go to jail if you put them in a landfill,” Bjarnemark says. “They have to be recycled.”

The recycling processes for batteries that contain lead, mercury, and cadmium are heavily regulated by the government.

Last year, Battery Solutions recycled more than 50 million pounds of batteries, and things are likely going to get busier.

“This is a business that’s growing fast,” Bjarnemark says. “Batteries are everywhere — laptops, cell phones, iPads, and power tools. The big thing now is electric vehicles. Sooner or later, those kinds of batteries will have to be recycled.”

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Higher Support

More and more companies and businesses are supporting employees in their efforts to receive higher education.

Chocolate Collateral

A cuisine team from Redford Township converges on cocoa.

Parts Air

Ford Motor Co. utilized a massive Antonov AN-124-100 aircraft to ensure the delivery of a 87,000-pound die.

Lip Service

Aspiring beauty mogul Adonai Alexander is our Young CEO of the Year.

Virtual Clouds

Data centers benefit from the region’s stable environment and market access.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Birmingham’s Ford-Peabody Mansion to House Japanese-inspired Restaurant
    Adachi, a Japanese-inspired restaurant, is slated to open for dinner in the restored Ford...
  2. West Bloomfield Township’s Planterra Conservatory to Expand
    Planterra Conservancy in West Bloomfield Township today announced construction plans have been...
  3. Massive $510M Dairy Campus to Open in 2020 North of Lansing
    Glanbia plc, a global nutrition group with a presence in 32 countries; Select Milk Producers...
  4. Annual Fash Bash to be Held on August 16 at the Detroit Institute of Arts
    The Founders Junior Council, the young professionals’ auxiliary of the Detroit Institute of...
  5. Exlterra in Hazel Park Launches Subsoil Nutrient Enrichment System to Enhance Tree and Vineyard Growth
    Exlterra, a sustainable environmental technology company in Hazel Park, today launched NEPS —...
  6. Ford Rolls Out Wearable Technology Globally for Plant Workers Following Successful Tests
    Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn today announced it is rolling out a new wearable technology globally...