Everyone has that one drawer in the house filled with old electronics; gadgets that no longer work, power cables of all kinds, and likely, a ton of dead batteries. What do you do with them?
A Nielsen survey conducted earlier this year found that 26% of Canadians hoard single-use batteries for anywhere from six months up to a year, and many say they simply don’t know what to do with them. Most (81%) of Canadians are aware of battery recycling programs, says non-profit stewardship organization Call2Recycle, yet only 58% actively participate in them.
Why Recycle Your Batteries?
Most of us know that it isn’t a good idea to throw batteries into the garbage, where they’ll end up in landfills. Doing so means potentially hazardous materials can harm the environment. What’s more, the batteries could possibly start fires. Disposing of batteries properly can help conserve our valuable, natural resources.
There are lots of safe ways to get rid of batteries. When dropped off at the right place, metal and chemical byproducts of the batteries are recycled and used in new products, while the remaining waste is disposed of safely, in accordance with international recycling standards. Call2Recycle, for example, sends batteries it receives to one of four recording and sorting partners in Canada, after which they are sent for process and recovery to partner The Wireless Alliance.
In addition to federal regulations, such as the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Act in the U.S., many Canadian provinces, including B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, also have provincial regulations to which companies that sell, market, or import batteries, or products that use batteries, must legally adhere with respect to the end of life of the materials used. So the responsibility is on the companies as well as the consumers. If there are rules they must follow for making the products, the onus is on us to safely dispose of them, too.
How to Recycle Your Batteries Safely
You could wait for a local pick-up day in your area. Most regional waste management facilities offer special days through the year when you can leave dead batteries and electronics curbside for free pick-up. Check with your municipality to find out when the next one will be, gather up old batteries, and leave them out for pickup. If you don’t want to wait, pay a visit to a local waste management facility and pay a small fee to dispose of all kinds of items, including electronics and batteries, in a dedicated area.
Alternatively, you could visit a local drop-off location. There are actually more than you think. Call2Recycle has more than 8,000 drop-off locations in Canada, including retailers and municipalities, where you can leave unwanted batteries for safe disposal. In my city in Ontario, about 45 minutes outside of downtown Toronto, 10 locations pop up near me, including Staples, Lowes, and Canadian Tire stores – shops I’d visit occasionally anyway. Bag up the batteries or tape them together, and drop them off. If the batteries are damaged or swollen, contact Call2Recycle to determine special handling instructions. According to Call2Recycle, more than 88% of Canadian residents live within 15 kilometres of a public drop-off location. In 2017, the organization said it collected close to 14 million pounds of batteries.
Consider going rechargeable for the holiday season
If you find that your household goes through a ton of disposable batteries, consider investing in a set of rechargeables to reduce the amount of battery waste you produce. Keep them charged up, and swap out batteries in things like television remotes, kid’s toys, and other electronic devices, as needed. Sure, you end up using electricity in order to recharge them. But it might be the better option if you simply aren’t recycling old batteries safely.
Recycling batteries will not only help the environment, but it’s a way to feel good about your tech this holiday season, as you give back to Mother Earth.
On February 18 of this year, deemed National Battery Day, Linda Gabor, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Service for Call2Recycle, emphasized that in order for us to enjoy the “freedom to go unplugged,” we need to also take responsibility to ensure proper and safe disposal of end-of-life batteries. Doing so will make us feel even better about the plethora of battery-operated tech toys we enjoy on a daily basis.