Around the job site you will see all sorts of cordless power tools. Over the years, as the technology has gotten better, smaller and more powerful, they have become more relied upon. They are essential to productivity and the demanding nature of the job. For a long time, the only concern about the battery, the power plant of the tool, was whether or not it had enough power. What the battery was made of was not of much concern and where it went when it was all used up was even less of a concern. But contractors and people who use these tools are more aware, more conscientious of what they use and how they use it.
Most cordless power tools were powered with Nickel Cadmium battery packs. These battery packs were good because they were much better than the old lead based packs, they were fairly cheap and had a decent power to weight ratio. But for all of their advantages, they still contained cadmium, which is considered a toxic material. That meant that there were millions of these battery packs being used and discarded with toxic material contained within. Many manufacturers tried to offer recycling and collection services, but more often than not, these battery packs were thrown away with the rest of the construction waste.
Along came the Lithium-Ion battery pack which is becoming the standard on newer models of tools. Is it perfect? No, nothing is, but it doesn’t contain toxic and hazardous materials that can make it into our water and soil. The battery is not only better because it is not toxic, but it also has a longer life than the typical nickel cadmium battery. That means that there are less battery packs thrown away over the same amount of time, less waste. That being said, we do have to do a better job of recycling these batteries. Not just the ones for power tools, but for computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.
While the green aspects of power tools was not a driving factor in the decisions for most of us in the past, more power and less weight would be the priority, it is one of those topics that has become much more important in recent years and is important enough for our customers to ask about. While using Lithium-Ion battery packs instead of nickel cadmium may not solve the problems of the planet, it won’t hurt it. This is especially true with growing interest in LEED-certified projects.
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Photo: Lithium-ion battery portable charging device from Shutterstock