By Tera Grady –
Part of the Cariboo Regional District’s Solid Waste Info Series: Becoming Waste Wise
February 18th was National Battery Day and Call2Recycle, the stewardship agency responsible for consumer battery recycling, is challenging Canadians to recycle all their old batteries.
According to the 2018 Call2Recycle consumer survey, 88 percent of British Columbians knew consumer batteries were recyclable; however, only 44 percent recycled all their batteries in 2018. This equated to a 37 percent return rate, meaning that 63 percent of batteries purchased in 2018 were not recycled.
This leads to the question—where did they all go?
If you have a drawer at home or a box that your used batteries end up in, you are not alone. Call2Recycle has identified that battery “hoarding” is one of the factors contributing to the low recycling rate for consumer batteries.
The low recycling rate may also be because consumers incorrectly put batteries in their garbage or household recycling. This could be by accident or on purpose. Either way, batteries must not be disposed of in the garbage or household recycling.
During the Cariboo Regional District’s 2019 waste audit, 0.01 percent of the annual waste was attributed to lead acid batteries. That may not sound like much; yet, it adds up to over one tonne of batteries disposed at the Gibraltar landfill each year.
The good news is our recycling rate is improving. In 2018, residents in the CRD recycled 4,883 kg of consumer batteries. Per capita, that is 40 percent less than the provincial average. In 2019, though, we recycled 6,400 kg of batteries—a 30 percent increase.
But, why should you recycle your batteries?
First of all, lithium or lithium-ion batteries are a leading cause of fires at both landfills and recycling facilities, which puts workers and the environment at risk.
Secondly, the hazardous chemicals and metals found in batteries can contaminate ground water and soils if disposed of improperly. If they are recycled, though, they can be used to make a variety of new products.
- Nickel helps make new batteries, stainless steel, coins, and electronics.
- Copper is used in appliances, mobile phones, and brass fixtures.
- Stainless steel is used for the construction of bridges and guard rails, plus everyday products including appliances, cars, trucks, stainless steel water bottles, and even pens.
- Aluminum is the most recyclable of all materials, helping create airplane parts, bicycles, aluminum cans, iPod and computer casings, and many more products.
- Cobalt and lithium are used to create new batteries.
Let’s keep our momentum going in the Cariboo and recycle all old batteries in 2020. Challenge yourself, your family, and your friends to seek out all old batteries floating around households or offices and return them for recycling.
To find a drop off location, use the Call2Recycle locator on their website: www.call2recycle.ca/locator/. Learn more by following us on Facebook at facebook.com/caribooregion or visiting us online at www.cariboord.ca. For more information on the Waste Wise Program, call 250-398-7929. You can also find more details on Waste Wise activities and events at www.ccconserv.org. -GG