Environmental Impact of Batteries

Most of us have seen it happen: someone gets the perfect holiday gadget, the hot toy– exactly what she/he wanted. He/she lofts it in the air, maybe there’s a fist pump or enthusiastic trot around the room. The package is ripped open, the “on” switch is flipped annnnd “batteries not included.”

Nothing pulls the merry out of the morning like an exciting gift that can’t be used. As someone who has been given a battery-less gift I know the importance of stocking up on batteries for the holidays. It’s always good to have a battery stockpile.

However, the importance of the matter got me thinking about the lifecycle of batteries. They are one of the things that everyone knows you are supposed to recycle.

Enough dead batteries go into our landfills every year to circle the earth four times, when laid end to end. This amount of waste would be worrisome no matter the material; but the corrosive, acidic character of batteries makes them especially problematic. Batteries contain metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel. If not disposed of properly, these elements can pollute the environment.

A lot of factors are to blame here. Proper battery disposal sites are not as prevalent or easily accessible as they should be and many people don’t know how/where to correctly dispose of them.

Earth 911 is a user-friendly and approachable guide on how and where to recycle anything. Most people aren’t aware, but many businesses that sell batteries also recycle them. Auto repair businesses are especially good about taking in and recycling used car and wet-cell batteries—the most harmful batteries to not recycle. More than likely, you’ll be able to recycle your old batteries at exactly the same place you buy new ones.

An even better alternative to recycling your batteries correctly is to look at rechargeable batteries. Luckily, technology around rechargeable batteries is evolving. EarthCell, a Kickstarter company may have the solution. They are boasting the world’s first waste-free battery. Having only a nickel core, this battery is already less harmful to the environment. It is also supposed to last much longer than traditional alkaline batteries. The batteries come with a prepaid envelope. Once they have expired just drop them in the mail and earthCell will revitalize the batteries. Once they have been used hundreds of times they will be dismantled and the raw materials will go into—you guessed it—making more batteries. A pledge of just $6 will get you the batteries. A pledge of $45 will get you 10 AA and 10 AAA batteries, the prepaid mailer and a bamboo tray to keep them in.

Hopefully, with technology’s movements toward better batteries and people’s movements toward recycling we can keep our planet and Christmas morning running smoothly.

*Image: sscreations / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*