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Recycling

1.
Collection Points

Waste batteries (RBA) may be returned to the original places of purchase, now called Collection Points. These places do not need licensing by the Ministry of the Environment but must store RBAs:

• In covered and waterproof areas away from customers and heat sources;
• In duly identified air-tight containers, whose composition does not react with the RBA components (i.e. polypropylene).


RBAs should be stored with the fluid inside and in vertical position, with the openings closed and facing upwards.

3.
Collection Centre

The Collection Centres are facilities in which RBAs may be delivered free of charge by their owners/holders, remaining in storage until they are transported to recycling centres. For this reason, they should have a storage area of at least 75 m2 and:

• A waterproof surface;
• Roofing that provides protection against the rain and the wind but is sufficiently ventilated and lit;
• Duly identified air-tight containers, whose composition does not react with the RBA components (i.e. polypropylene). RBAs should be stored with the fluid inside and in vertical position, with the openings closed and facing upwards;
• A fire combat system;
• A system for the containment of possible spillages;
• Fencing that prevents access to the facility.

The entry into operation of the Collection Centres depends on licensing by the Ministry of the Environment, under the terms of Decree Law no. 73/2011. After being licensed, a RBA collection operator may apply to join the VALORCAR NETWORK, once compliant with the set of reference criteria determined by VALORCAR for that activity.

2.
Transport

RBA transport carries a risk of environmental damage and to human health because of electrolyte leaks or spills. For this reason, a set of good practices in prevention and action in the event of accident should be in place during transport, namely:

• RBAs should be transported in containers that are shock resistant, waterproof and do not react to acid (e.g. polypropylene containers);
• RBAs should be packed in vertical position with their openings closed and facing upwards;
• The means of transport should bear proper identification and signage for corrosive and toxic products, as well as have equipment to retain possible spillages or run-off;
• The driver should be trained in how to react in the event of an accident, spillage or fire, and have personal protective equipment, such as gloves, boots, vest and helmet, at his disposal.

In addition to these specific guidelines, the transport of RBAs must also comply with the regulations foreseen in Decree no. 145/2017 on the transport of waste.

International Transport

In situations in which RBAs are exported/imported, it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that there are specific rules for the transboundary movement of waste – Regulation (EC) no. 1013/2006, Decree Law no. 45/2008 and Decree no. 242/2008. This legislation establishes the procedures and control systems according to the origin, destination and route of the transfers, the type of waste (green, amber and red lists) and the type of treatment to which waste will be subject at its destination (disposal/recovery). The Portuguese Environment Protection Agency is the national competent authority for this purpose.

4.
Recyclers

The overwhelming majority of the currently collected RBAs are lead-acid, which are mainly constituted of lead (64%), sulphuric acid electrolyte (28%) and plastic (8%). Lead is a material that is very easy to recycle and can be reused an indefinite number of times.

The RBA recycling process starts with shredding in a damp environment and the subsequent separation of the electrolyte, the plastic wrapping (polypropylene) and the lead compounds. Afterwards:

• The electrolyte is neutralized with caustic soda and is then sent to be treated at a WTP or turned into sodium sulphate, which can be used e.g. for the fabrication of detergents or glass;
• The plastic is later processed by extrusion and used in the manufacture e.g. of new battery cases, urban furniture, irrigation tubes or plant vases;
• The lead compounds are melted along with other materials (according to the composition of the scrap and the specifications of the final product to be made) and purified, being turned into ingots or moulds. The higher quality lead is used to make new batteries, while the remainder is used to produce ammunition cartridges, UV protection barriers, counterweights for elevators, ballast for ships, etc.