Used alkaline cells processed for reuse as agricultural nutrients

Agriculture is not the first thing that comes to mind when considering what could be done with used batteries. Nevertheless, Tracegrow has developed a cost-effective method for capturing minerals from used alkaline cells. These can be used on fields as nutrients, which helps to reduce the need for virgin minerals extraction.

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Problem

Alkaline batteries often end up in landfills where they pollute the environment. They contain zinc and manganese, which are extracted as non-renewable virgin resources by mining and refining. Refineries and end-product technologies require expensive investments. The sorting and recycling of alkaline batteries disposed of by consumers generates vast volumes of alkaline mass. The mass contains manganese and zinc, which are difficult and expensive to recover with current methods.

Solution: a new technology for the processing of used alkaline batteries to produce agricultural nutrients

Alkaline batteries are collected, sorted and crushed. The new technology developed by Tracegrow enables the recovery of a mineral compound which contains zinc, manganese, sulphur and potassium. The mineral is diluted and spread onto fields in conjunction with irrigation or pesticide application to give crops a boost. Global population growth and the loss of arable land mean that increasingly high yields will be required. The manganese–zinc mineral compound manufactured from recycled material is an efficient and environmentally friendly solution.

Revenue logic and benefits to Tracegrow

The mineral product can be offered to a growing market: the value of the global market is estimated to reach €13 billion by 2021. The sale and licensing of technologies will represent a significant part of the business.

Benefits to customers

Minerals produced from recycled materials are an environmentally friendly and competitively priced alternative. Their use in agriculture is environmentally more responsible and thus good for image. Virgin manganese reserves are limited, and the availability of recycled manganese will help to protect against highly fluctuating prices and ensure price stability.

Facts

Tracegrow in brief

Main business: manufacture of basic non-organic chemicals

Established: 2012

Net sales: less than €1 million

Launch of circular economy solution: production will start in the beginning of 2018

Share of the circular economy solution of the total business: 100%

Employees: 1-10

Headquarters: Nivala

Website: http://tracegrow.com/

Project

The most interesting companies in the circular economy in Finland

The most interesting companies in the circular economy is a list compiled by Sitra to showcase Finland’s most inspiring examples of the circular economy. Sitra is using the list as a way to challenge Finnish companies to meet the changing needs of the world.

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