Battery recycling programs make it more sustainable to drive electric vehicles

Hybrid and electric vehicles are cutting edge technologies that may even save our planet one day, but for the past few years, it's been less sustainable to build the vehicles than their eventual impact on the environment.

Just about every material that makes a hybrid can be recycled - the body can be reprocessed into steel, tires can be reproduced into crumb rubber and the windshield can be made into building materials - but the batteries are another story. According to, hybrid cars typically use lead-acid batteries, but they also use an additional nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or Lithium-ion battery (Li-ion), which contain some hazardous materials and it can be a chore to recycle them.

Toyota, manufacturer of the ever-popular Prius, has announced a recycling program that will take NiMH batteries out of local landfills and reuse the materials to make more car batteries. This collection of material will help to lower costs for its consumers, as well as lessening its impact on the environment.

While these products are certainly a concern for auto manufacturers, recycling traditional car batteries has been one of the great success stories of public recycling. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the lead-acid car battery has achieved a 99.2 percent recycling rate since 2008. Much of this can be attributed to states banning the devices in local landfills, but many states will also cover a consumer's costs to encourage them to properly dispose of the batteries.

Whether you drive a hybrid or a pick-up truck, properly recycling your spent auto parts and keeping them out of landfills will make a huge impact for the health and wellbeing of your community.