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What can we do with used Alkaline Batteries? The Solution to the Problem.

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

Tracegrow was built to meet a specific need: what could we do with the ever increasing amount of spent alkaline batteries?

Alkaline battery mass is the fraction left over at battery recycling facilities after crushing the batteries and magnetically recovering the contained steel. The material that is left over is a black mass (hence the name) that contains large quantities of zinc and manganese, but also other materials such as carbon, paper, plastic as well as various metals. In many cases, this leftover fraction is then sent to a smelter where they can recover the vaporized zinc by incineration. However, this is expensive, takes a lot of energy and not all the fractions can be recovered efficiently or at all.

To find a better solution, the entrepreneurs behind Tracegrow made it their goal to develop a fertiliser from this raw material. As the company’s main owners have an agricultural background and a wealth of interest in the subject, the company focused its research on the process of dissolving and purifying these metals from the battery waste. Additionally, the collaboration with the University of Oulu and the team of Professor Ulla Lassi led to the discovery that the trace elements contained in the batteries were in a form that allowed them to be processed into raw materials needed for fertilizers. As a significant benefit of this discovery was that because the batteries could be reused by Tracegrow it meant that they did not have to be disposed of as hazardous waste, saving up to 1,4Kg CO2e per each kilogram of batteries. What this also meant, is that there was now a sustainable and cost efficient alternative for conventionally mined zinc and manganese for fertilisers.

To read the original article on Tracegrow's origins, go to the full story on the #Kierrossa-blog by Recser Oy. Recser is a non-profit organization representing over 700 battery and accumulator producers. They collect, pre-process and recycle batteries and accumulators as well as promote recycling in Finland. For more information on Recser Oy, visit their website: What is Paristokierrätys?

The product emerging as the result of this development, ZM-Grow, is already sold in 14 countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK and it is now available for an even wider range of farmers through Tracegrow's recently expanded distribution network. The latest additions to Tracegrow's distributors in Northern Europe are Rudnik Agro and Polish Agro in Poland, Baltic Agro in Estonia, Lantmännen Agro in Finland as well as AB Linas Agro Group who offer their products and services throughout the Baltics.

Approved for organic farming

As ZM-Grow meets the purity requirements of the EU fertiliser legislation, it was expected early on that the product would be approved as an organic fertiliser. What counts in organic fertilisers is the quality and purity of the final product, not necessarily its raw material. Because of this, the approval of the ecological, purified ZM-Grow solution made from recycled materials as an organic fertiliser was achieved.

Tracegrow has since continued our research to develop new products from other types of waste- and by-products. Last autumn, we launched a new fertiliser, ZMC-Grow, a development of ZM-Grow which has been blended with recycled copper refined from used copper cables and other waste copper. ZMC-Grow, because of its nutrient content and usability characteristics, is an excellent product and it has been received extremely well by farmers. In addition to its qualities, its ecological impact has also been the cause for strong interest. It is very interesting to work with a domestic fertilizer manufacturer that is a pioneer in material recycling and environmental sustainability.” - Lantmännen Agro

Both products are also available for field trials on request. For samples, contact us and please provide us with your contact details as well as an initial trial plan.

Higher yields with lower carbon emissions

Our focus next is to continue towards better availability of our products in both central and southern Europe through reliable and lasting relationships with local distributors, importers, and retailers. What we offer is clean and sustainably produced alternatives with proven results for cost-effective micronutrition, resulting in healthy crops and higher yields.

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