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Key facts about lithium batteries

Shorter charging times, longer battery life, reduced weight: The battery technology used in our devices is constantly evolving and improving. More and more “old” batteries are being replaced by more powerful lithium batteries in modern mobile electronic devices. Powerful lithium batteries are used to power mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras, and cordless drills and screwdrivers, as well as the 300,000 electric bikes and the many hoverboards (electric skateboards) already in use in Austria.

Their primary advantages over traditional batteries are their high energy density and low self-discharge, even when stored for long periods. However, this new technology involves changes not only in the batteries’ shape and size, but also in the way that users have to handle them when collecting and disposing of them. While older nickel-cadmium batteries always had to be fully charged or discharged, this is no longer necessary for lithium batteries, since modern batteries are built to work with devices in such a way that overcharging or deep discharging is avoided when charging and using the batteries.

Important points to bear in mind:

Lithium batteries sometimes react strongly to sharp temperature increases or mechanical damage. Therefore, it is important to be especially careful when storing and disposing of these batteries. However, uncontrolled dangerous reactions can generally be avoided through careful handling and proper disposal.

Some suggested guidelines for working with these batteries:

  • Use original chargers and accessories
    It is recommended that you always use original chargers and accessories to avoid overcharging and short circuits. Be sure to always observe the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
  • Avoid damage
    Signs of a damaged lithium battery include a deformed metal housing, melted areas on a plastic housing, leaking fluids, or heat coming from the battery when the device is switched off. Even tiny, invisible damage to the separators (not visible from the outside) could lead to spontaneous combustion.
  • Do not touch with metal objects
    Do not allow the battery contacts to touch metal objects other than the device itself, e.g. coins or keys, which could cause a short circuit.
  • Keep dry
    Whenever possible, keep your mobile phone and batteries from getting wet. The components can corrode and become a safety hazard (except for special waterproof and dustproof phones).
  • Separate collection
    Lithium batteries should not be collected/stored in large quantities in the home. They should be protected as much as possible when stored, e.g. wrapped in plastic bags or their original packaging, and taken to the collection centre as soon as possible. For larger batteries on which exposed contacts are visible, please be sure to tape over the terminals with tape.
  • Remove the battery from the device if you can do so easily
    When you bring your device to the collection centre, please remove the battery beforehand, if you can do so easily. That way, it can be disposed of separately with other batteries right away. If you cannot easily remove the battery from the device, the trained collection centre staff will take care of it for you.

Conclusion: Never throw used batteries in your household rubbish! Lithium batteries, and/or old electrical and electronic equipment that uses them, can be dropped off for free at designated collection centres throughout Austria, where they can be reused in an environmentally-friendly way. You can also drop off used batteries for free at any business that sells new batteries – usually in specially designated battery collection boxes.