Easy Way to Impact Earth Day 2016, Recycle All Your Batteries
Three hundred million pounds of raw materials are lost every year from landfilling single-use (alkaline) batteries. Battery recycling one of the easiest way to make a real impact until next Earth Day.
Every year the average American disposes almost one pound of alkaline batteries, based on data supplied by a battery manufacturer. Less than 10 percent of those batteries are recycled. It means that from Earth Day 2016 to next one in 2017 nearly 300 million pounds of batteries will be landfilled with no possibility reusing those raw materials again. That’s why we purpose to #makeearthdaystartday, not just a single day of caring for the Earth.
Alkaline batteries are not hazardous for the environment, but landfilling them is a huge waste of resources:
- Manufacturing alkaline batteries requires mining more than 600,000 tons of zinc ore, every year, according to calculations from information from the International Zinc Association and CALRecycle.
- By not recycling these batteries, more than 30,000 tons of CO2 is released to the atmosphere, which equals emissions from over 3,000 cars/year, according to data on emissions rates from the EPA.
Additionally, there is an increasing number of foreign alkaline batteries on the market that contain higher than permitted levels of lead, cadmium and mercury, which are a real threat to our environment and our ground water supply, if landfilled.
When batteries are collected by an approved and certified battery recycler the harmful substances are compliantly handled and the raw materials are able to be reused. These materials can go into everything from fertilizers to completely new batteries.
Recycling your batteries
The recycling rate of single-use batteries is only around 6-10 percent in the U.S., according to several sources, including CALRecycle. Approved legislation requires Vermont to recycle all batteries and offers statewide collection while California has a ban of disposing alkaline batteries in the trash, it does not have a statewide collection service. The challenge with battery recycling is finding a collection point.
For rechargeable batteries there is an extensive network of collection points run by the stewardship organization, Call2Recycle. Their website offers location tools to find the nearest collection point.
For single-use batteries the opportunities are more limited. Here’s what an individual can do:
- Take the batteries to the city or township recycling facility (not all facilities accept batteries so be sure to check).
- Ask your employer, school, church or other kind of organization to arrange for battery recycling (the more people that ask, the more likely it will happen) by ordering collection containers from your local environmental service company or from a specialized battery recycler.
- Buy your own UN-approved container from Battery Solutions, an approved and certified battery recycler, or from your local environment service company.
Together we can make this Earth Day start day.