Just Because We Can Throw Away Batteries Doesn't Mean We Should
Long-time Pale Blue Earth customers know that one of our goals has always been to help reduce the total number of alkaline batteries consumed every year. In fact, we would love to see alkaline batteries eliminated altogether. From our perspective, the big issue is throwing things into landfills. Just because we can throw batteries away does not mean we should.
As we see it, landfill space is a limited commodity and every landfill has inherent risks to the local environment. Continuing to utilize disposable alkaline batteries only adds to the problem. Ironically, it is completely unnecessary.
Disposable alkaline batteries may have been the best option 50 years ago, but they aren't anymore. Today's lithium-ion batteries are:
less expensive in the long term
recyclable around the world
more environmentally friendly
Could it be that the only reason we hang on to alkaline batteries is due to intertia or a fear of changing to new tech? Anything is possible. At any rate, it is time for a change.
Tons of Battery Waste
A 2019 battery waste study out of the University of Kanpur (India) revealed some startling numbers about battery waste. According to the study, more than twelve billion disposable batteries were sold worldwide in 1993. Compare that to 2014, when more than 3.5 billion batteries (of all types) were produced in Japan alone.
Most of the batteries sold around the world are primary batteries. And among them, disposable alkaline batteries make up more than half the total. What do all the numbers tell us? That we are unnecessarily producing tons of battery waste.
It's All for Nothing
We cannot emphasize enough that all this waste is for nothing, at least where disposable alkaline batteries are concerned. We don't have to keep doing it. There is a better way. For example, our USB rechargeable batteries can be charged 1000+ times. That means you could potentially eliminate up to 999 alkaline batteries with every Pale Blue Earth lithium-ion cell you purchase.
According to the EPA, we can throw away alkaline batteries if we want to, although California has its own requirements having deemed them to be hazardous waste in need of special disposal. Thanks to rule changes made back in the nineties, we supposedly can safely dispose of alkaline batteries in landfills. But again, the fact that we can does not mean we should.
We can all buy big gas guzzlers and drive as much as possible in order to maximize fuel consumption. That doesn't mean we should. We can continue depending on fossil fuels to power the global economy. That doesn't mean we should. There are lots of things we can continue doing. But what if there are better ways? What if there are more sustainable ways? Shouldn't we be doing those things instead?
Eliminate as Much Waste as Possible
For us, the waste issue starts with single use products and specifically, disposable alkaline batteries. But it doesn't stop there. We are firm believers in eliminating as much waste as possible. We are talking about eliminating it across the board. Wherever we find waste, it's appropriate to look for solutions to reduce or eliminate it. That is just common sense.
We have no way of knowing where you stand on the landfill issue. But would you at least agree that lithium-ion batteries – particularly our USB rechargeable batteries – offer equal or better performance compared to disposable products? And if so, can you think of one good reason to not replace your alkalines with lithium-ion? We can keep throwing away batteries, but it doesn't mean we should.
- Tags: Sustainability