Sorting and collecting all types of batteries

Every battery deposited at a Bebat collection point in Belgium ends up in one place: Sortbat, in Tienen. This state-of-the art battery sorting facility sees an incredible 500,000 batteries rolling across the conveyor belt every day!

Why sort batteries at all?

Because different types of batteries are made from different materials, they can't all be recycled in the same way. They need to be sorted first. Which is why our work at Sortbat is so important. Samples show that in recent years, we have sorted 99.5% of batteries correctly: a European record.

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You'd be surprised what our staff sometimes find among the batteries! Drink cans, food scraps, paper and even nappies, light bulbs, sharp objects and syringes. Needless to say, we remove these and dispose of them accordingly. But let's all play our part: remember that Bebat collection points are for used batteries, nothing more, nothing less.

Arrival at Tienen

Wherever you drop off your batteries - at the supermarket in Knokke, at the DIY store in Namur or at your local recycling centre in Brussels - they all make their way to Tienen. They arrive in drums weighing around 60 kg each.

Step 1

Manual sorting

Step 2

Magnetic sorting

Step 3

Mechanical sorting

Step 4

Electronic sorting

Manual sorting

When the barrels arrive at Sortbat, a crane empties them into a large container. Here a belt conveys the batteries to a manual pre-sorting. Along this conveyor belt, staff remove large packs such as batteries from computers, power tools, etc. from the flow. Those packs are neatly sorted into 4 groups based on their composition: rechargeable lithium, alkaline, lead and nickel cadmium.

After the pre-sorting, the batteries thunder down the conveyor belt for the next stage of manual sorting. A laser counts the number of batteries racing past, so that the conveyor belt can maintain a pace that is efficient for our employees.
It's at this stage that eagle eyed staff members remove any remaining objects like plastic, ink cartridges.
Here they cut open the well-known Bebat bags and store them separately for the monthly tombola.
They take small packs (Nickel cadmium (NiCd), Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and rechargeable lithium) off the conveyor belt. At this stage our staff removes any foreign objects from the belt.

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Each type is recycled by a specific process. After all, batteries contain valuable and reusable materials. Permanent statistical process control shows that at Sortbat we sort 99.5% of the batteries correctly, a European record. And we are proud of that, for the better the sorting, the better the recycling! Our mission is to contribute to a better environment by better and more efficient sorting.

Magnetic sorting

All batteries that are still on the belt will end up at the magnetic sorting station. Batteries with a non-magnetic casing such as some zinc batteries and some button cells end up in a separate box as they probably contain heavy metals.

Mechanical sorting

All magnetic batteries, which is by far the largest portion, now get to the mechanical sorting. The batteries are chased at breakneck speed by a vibrating sieve and sorted according to shape and size: button cell batteries, 9 volt batteries, 4.5 volt batteries, AA and AAA batteries, C and D batteries.

Button cell batteries
9 volt batteries
4.5 volt batteries
AA and AAA batteries
C and D batteries

Electronic sorting

Finally, all cylindrical batteries go through a high-tech machine for a round of electronic sorting. Based on their measurements, weight and magnetic resonance, the machine detects the chemical composition of each battery. In all we sort the batteries into eight possible fractions which will be sent to the right recycler.

Step 1

Manual sorting

Manual sorting

When the barrels arrive at Sortbat, a crane empties them into a large container. Here a belt conveys the batteries to a manual pre-sorting. Along this conveyor belt, staff remove large packs such as batteries from computers, power tools, etc. from the flow. Those packs are neatly sorted into 4 groups based on their composition: rechargeable lithium, alkaline, lead and nickel cadmium.

After the pre-sorting, the batteries thunder down the conveyor belt for the next stage of manual sorting. A laser counts the number of batteries racing past, so that the conveyor belt can maintain a pace that is efficient for our employees.
It's at this stage that eagle eyed staff members remove any remaining objects like plastic, ink cartridges.
Here they cut open the well-known Bebat bags and store them separately for the monthly tombola.
They take small packs (Nickel cadmium (NiCd), Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and rechargeable lithium) off the conveyor belt. At this stage our staff removes any foreign objects from the belt.

Foundation / icons / -all- Created with Sketch.

Each type is recycled by a specific process. After all, batteries contain valuable and reusable materials. Permanent statistical process control shows that at Sortbat we sort 99.5% of the batteries correctly, a European record. And we are proud of that, for the better the sorting, the better the recycling! Our mission is to contribute to a better environment by better and more efficient sorting.

Step 2

Magnetic sorting

Magnetic sorting

All batteries that are still on the belt will end up at the magnetic sorting station. Batteries with a non-magnetic casing such as some zinc batteries and some button cells end up in a separate box as they probably contain heavy metals.

Step 3

Mechanical sorting

Mechanical sorting

All magnetic batteries, which is by far the largest portion, now get to the mechanical sorting. The batteries are chased at breakneck speed by a vibrating sieve and sorted according to shape and size: button cell batteries, 9 volt batteries, 4.5 volt batteries, AA and AAA batteries, C and D batteries.

Button cell batteries
9 volt batteries
4.5 volt batteries
AA and AAA batteries
C and D batteries

Step 4

Electronic sorting

Electronic sorting

Finally, all cylindrical batteries go through a high-tech machine for a round of electronic sorting. Based on their measurements, weight and magnetic resonance, the machine detects the chemical composition of each battery. In all we sort the batteries into eight possible fractions which will be sent to the right recycler.

A question ?

Our team of experts is always happy to answer any questions you might have