The term battery refers to storage for electrical energy that is not rechargeable (or rechargeable only to a very limited degree). They are also called primary battery. The Battery Act classifies them according to where they are used. We differentiate between batteries for appliances, vehicles and industry.
The term accumulator refers to rechargeable storage elements, also called secondary cells. Several secondary cells wired together are also called a battery. Batteries are mainly made of metals. By recovering them, a contribution is made to responsible resource management. However, batteries also contain substances that pose a risk to health and the environment. For this reason, it is prohibited to dispose of them as household waste. In Germany more than 50,000 tonnes of batteries and accumulators for appliances are brought to market every year. The waste batteries for appliances are returned at retail outlets at no cost to the consumer. Many municipalities also offer to dispose of them at recycling centres or mobile pollutant collection centres.
Battery manufacturers have established a joint return system (Stiftung Gemeinsames Rücknahmesystem Batterien – GRS). There are also four manufacturer-specific return systems (CCR REBAT, ERP Deutschland, Öcorecell und Ecobat). These generally use third party contractors, such as logistics and disposal companies, which take back the batteries for them and fulfil the recovery obligations. By setting up the return systems, the manufacturers fulfil their product responsibilities and provide for the collection, recycling or environmentally sound disposal of waste batteries.
Industrial batteries include batteries for electric bikes and pedelecs and the batteries of electric vehicles. These can also be returned to the distributor. Vehicle batteries are also called starter batteries, as they are used for the starting, lighting and ignition power of vehicles. Vehicle batteries can also be returned free of charge to the distributor. They contain large amounts of lead and can be recycled almost completely.