Batteries are not cheaply recyclable in their current form. So the only long-term option is to encourage the producers to take responsibility by either taking them back, paying the recycling costs or developing non hazardous batteries.
I’ve been staggered at the amount of batteries we are collecting what that cost really equates to. For example if you bought 10 x AA batteries you would pay an average of $15. Those ten batteries have a combined weight of 250gms. Our ten litre battery recycling buckets weigh an average of 18kgs when full. My maths isn’t that great but I think that works out to be approximately $1080 worth of batteries in each 10 litre bucket! So far we have collected 300kgs which = $32,400!! (just a drop in the ocean really). So a $60 recycling fee isn’t that much at all and if that was added to the initial purchase cost I don’t think consumers would grumble or even notice, especially if they understood what it was they were paying for and what the alternative to recycling is – leaving them in a dark desk draw for a few years then sending hazardous waste to landfills where it has the potential of leaching into waterways or the soil and eventually entering the food chain.
More and more people want to know the full story of what they are purchasing and consuming which is a great thing. If you think of how many batteries that companies such as Panasonic or Ever-ready are producing and selling it truly is staggering! This project has provided us with hard data and strengthens the case for product stewardship in a way that just talking about something never can. This has been a huge positive result of this project and please pass on our appreciation to everyone who has helped recycle and collect household batteries over this past year. And especially we would like to acknowledge The Tindal Foundation who have funded the project right from the start.
Shown here are some recent photos taken from ECYCLE depot in Silverdale, the recycling company which takes all the collected batteries – where they are packed into drums and shipped to Melbourne where recycling begins. This isn’t even the tip of the iceburg! Imagine all the cadmium, mercury and other toxic materials just in this small amount alone.
Ecycle expect to be shipping out 20 tons of used house hold batteries in the near future.
So please bring your batteries along to CBEC on Pukepoto Road for recycling (not to Northland Waste or in your red recycling bins as they do not take them), and pop them in the collection bucket just inside the doorway. Help keep toxic materials out of our landfill and instead put them back into circulation as new products.
Text & images by Ceres Sharp CBEC EcoSolutions (Whāngārei), supplied by Jo Shanks, CBEC EcoSolutions (Kaitāia)