Deceased batteries from your TV remote, smoke detector and many household appliances no longer need to go to the landfill where they can leach toxic chemicals into the ground. The BC Ministry of Environment has mandated a battery recycling program. In partnership with Call2Recycle, all household batteries under 11 pounds (five kg) – including rechargeable, alkaline, cell phones and household appliances can be dropped off at nearly 1,500 collection locations across the province.
Call2Recycle, the only free battery and cell phone collection program in North America, has collected more than 143,000 kilograms of rechargeable batteries in British Columbia since 1997. Once collected, the batteries are taken to sorting facilities where they are separated by type and shipped to processors where they are melted down “to harvest the most valuable metals or by-products the batteries have to offer,” said Carl Smith, CEO of Call2Recycle.
Lead goes to Quebec, lithium to Ontario, nickel to Pennsylvania and alkaline primary batteries that contain nickel-cadmium may find their way to France. “France is more aggressive with compliance on environmental laws than the US,” says Smith. “They’ve been recycling all batteries in the EU and French processors can handle huge volumes. Nothing goes into landfills – every ounce of what we get is recycled and 60-90% of battery weight is used in a secondary product depending on its chemistry.”
The waste nickel and iron is sold to steel industries to create stainless steel, cadmium goes to make new Ni-Cad batteries and zinc, a by- product of alkaline, is used as a fertilizer nutrient in the agricultural industry.
All industries that produce batteries must collect and ensure that the batteries will be recycled and the Ministry of Environment will track a battery manufacturer’s compliance with the recycling program by requiring the manufacturer to submit an annual performance report.
Besides BC, Ontario has also begun to collect all battery types for recycling. Discussions are underway in Manitoba and Quebec for regulatory proposals for an all consumer battery collection and recycling program. In all other provinces and territories, Call2Recycle only focuses on the collection of rechargeable batteries (less than 5 kg) and cell phones
Yet before you gleefully use up batteries, keep in mind that there are no environmentally friendly batteries. Using rechargeable ones, or solar powered is still your best bet.
To find a battery drop-off location near you or to learn how your company or organization can participate in the Call2Recycle program, visit call2recycle.ca and enter your postal code on their homepage or call 1-888-224-9764.