Protecting the Planet – Recycle Your Batteries
According to Environment Canada, over 95% (671 million of the approximately 707 million) of the consumer batteries sold in Canada in 2007 were primary (non-rechargeable) batteries; the remaining 5% (36 million units) were secondary (rechargeable) batteries (including automotive lead acid batteries).
Only about 2% of batteries are recycled in Canada each year according to the Canadian Consumer Battery Baseline Study (2007) with the rest of the batteries ending up in the landfill. In 2004, 340 million batteries were sent to the landfill! It’s expected that this could increase to over 483 million by 2010.
When it comes to batteries, most people are uncertain about how to deal with them once they are dead. If batteries are thrown away with our garbage they will end up in area landfills where all the metals in them can make their way into our environment. Batteries contain metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and nickel that can be bad for our health.
Although household batteries comprise a small fraction of 1% of total trash in municipal landfills, they are responsible for between 50% – 70% of all heavy metals found in the landfills (mercury, cadmium, lead).
The average household uses 1.2 pounds of sealed cell batteries per year. Most consumer batteries are land-filled with household trash in municipal landfills. Although all battery cell types are now recyclable, a small percentage are actually collected for recycling. Collection remains difficult as battery waste is generated by most everyone, but usually only in small quantities.
There are programs to collect this recyclable resource, collection depots are available at some Canadian Tire, Staples, and Hardware Stores. There are companies such as the Raw Materials Company in Port Colborne Ontario who run battery recycling programs .
Once batteries are collected, any acids are drained for reuse, metals are reprocessed for recycling into new products and plastic casings are melted down and recycled into new plastics. Not only is metal infinitely recyclable, but when recycled metal is remelted, energy savings of between 45% and 90% are realized, compared to making metal from ore.
Rechargeable VS Single Use Batteries
- Single-Use: Single-use are often considered more “wasteful,” because we consume such a large quantity of them. And this may sound redundant, but you can only use them once – increasing the need to have extra batteries around at all times in case your (insert electronic gadget here) dies.
- Rechargeables: Rechargeables are great for heavy use applications (cell phones, game controllers, digital cameras etc) but they also contain a great deal of heavy metals, meaning that if you don’t recycle them, contamination is much more likely.
No matter what kind of battery you use, recycling them at their end of life is key to preventing pollution and recapturing valuable metals to be reused.
Encore TeleSolutions is now has a battery recycling program in place, for use by its staff and customers. Please feel free to bring your expired batteries by our office for safe disposal.