Rechargeable batteries are also known as NiMH batteries because they have nickel metal hydride chemistry. While other battery chemistries are not yet collected for recycling, NiMH batteries are, which makes them better for the environment. Unfortunately, there is not one battery type that is better than all the others. Rechargeable batteries work best in devices that drain the battery often. This is because rechargeables work best when being recharged often (they can lose their capacity otherwise). Most rechargeable batteries have the same chemistry, so it may just depend on which brand has the most mAh (Milli-Amp Hour) or capacity to power a device.
I agree with eblairbryant that pretty much any battery can be recycled. However, I would argue that lead-acid batteries are better for the environment than all the others just because we have been using them for a very long time and we have developed a very good recycling program for them. When batteries wear out, the contents are recycled directly into new batteries. This is good because we don’t have to mine more material to make them work. However, lead-acid batteries are heavier and larger than NiMH batteries, so they are more commonly used in cars than they are for AA, AAA, C, and D batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries can be made even smaller and lighter than NiMH batteries. However, they are also very expensive because we are only beginning to use lithium for batteries. Over time, as we develop good recycling programs for them, we can expect to see the price of Lithium-ion batteries drop like they have dropped for Lead-acid batteries.
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