Flows and fates of nickel--cadmium batteries in the City of Cape Town

The use and disposal of nickel-cadmium secondary cells (the basic components of NiCd batteries) in Cape Town, South Africa, has been investigated with the objective of quantifying the associated flows of cadmium. Small sealed cells were found to make the dominant contribution to overall cadmium flows, with cordless power tools and separately imported cells accounting for most of these. Essentially all of these cells either have or will enter the general waste streams of the city. Large industrial cells made a smaller but significant contribution to overall flows, but none were known to have entered the general waste stream. These went primarily to hazardous waste disposal outside the city or recycling abroad, with some going into storage. The results suggested that the city's landfill stocks of cadmium are considerable, and that these could continue to grow in the future.

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