By Joey Papa on March 15, 2010

The hybrid has its many environmental and economic advantages, but there is one aspect that needs to be evaluated: its battery.

The Dark Side of the Hybrid

The hybrid car has been the pollution savior of the first portion of the 21st century. Without the breakthrough of a 100% electric car, the hybrid has been the best solution for fewer carbon emissions, less dependency on foreign oil and less money needed to purchase gasoline. The hybrid has its many environmental and economic advantages, but there is one aspect that needs to be evaluated: its battery.

The battery in a hybrid car is not the same as a conventional battery found in a gas-powered vehicle. A hybrid battery contains two important metals that if not recycled will end up in landfill. The two metals that are the most concerning are lead and nickel.

Lead is considered to be highly toxic and even more of a concern if it seeps into the water systems, yet it is one of the main components found in hybrid batteries. The good news is that lead is easily recycled if it makes it into the appropriate hands. The bad news? Many people throw away their old hybrid car batteries.

One of the simplest solutions to the presenting issue is for drivers to recycle their unwanted batteries. Finding a place to recycle your own hybrid battery is very easy. Most stores that sell batteries for any type of vehicle will gladly take your old battery and have it recycled. Once a store takes your old, used battery, it will sell it to a company that will refurbish the battery and make it like new, giving it a second life.

The other metal that is concerning in hybrid batteries is nickel. Environmentalists aren’t as concerned with nickel as they are with lead, but nickel still presents certain environmental issues. Nickel has been deemed a cancer-causing agent, so many people would rather it not enter the natural environment.

Some of the major players in the hybrid industry are committed to making sure that each hybrid battery is recyclable. Both Toyota and Honda went to great lengths to address this concerning issue. Both companies have a phone number printed on their hybrid car batteries for customers to call to find out more information on the battery and where they can have it recycled. Toyota even offers a pretty steep incentive for people to recycle their hybrid batteries.

For now, recycling the batteries is the only way to ensure they don’t end up in landfills, but leaders in the hybrid industry are committed to developing hybrid batteries that are less dependent on these two metals for functionality. Some are focusing their attention on lithium batteries and others are forging the way to electric cars. The future is looking bright for progression toward a greener future, but for now, be sure to recycle your hybrid car batteries. Besides, for every hybrid battery to send to Toyota, you will receive $200.

For a glimpse of the future of hybrid batteries, check out what Nissan’s plans for its electric car.

About the author

Joey Papa is a freelance writer in Tampa, FL, where he lives with his wife and son and daughter. Writing is more than a job for Joey; it's a way to express his passion and convictions through the written word.

His favorite subjects to write about are health and wellness, travel and creative writing.

Learn more about Joey Papa


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