Another holiday season has come and gone. Millions of battery-operated tools, toys, and electronic gadgets were gifted in 2022. That can only mean one thing: more batteries. Whether it is USB-C rechargeable batteries or some other type, all will eventually reach end-of-life. Then what?
Regular readers know that Paleblue is passionate about battery recycling (stay tuned for news about our efforts around National Battery Day which is coming up soon). That being the case, we thought it might be helpful to look at the good and bad of the recycling equation. We will actually start with the bad because doing so reinforces the good that comes from recycling batteries.
Why is NOT Recycling Batteries Bad?
There is little bad we can say about recycling batteries, but there is plenty to talk about in respect to trashing them. Below are just five things that make the choice to not recycle batteries bad:
1. Sometimes It's Against the Law
Many states and local municipalities have laws on the books designed to prevent consumers from throwing batteries into the trash. In simple terms, it may be against the law where you live to not recycle your spent batteries. We’re looking at you folks in California.
2. Spent Batteries Can Be Hazardous
Though we will not get into the details here, spent batteries can be hazardous when thrown in the trash. Just do a Google News search and read the stories yourself.
3. Some Battery Chemicals Are Toxic
Next up, some of the chemicals found in batteries are toxic if allowed to leech out into landfills. This is true whether you are talking NiCads, li-ions, etc. These are chemicals we definitely don't want to allow back into the environment.
4. It is Bad for Waterways
Not recycling batteries means chemicals potentially leaching into the soil and eventually finding their way into waterways. Do we want those chemicals in our water? No.
5. It Consumes Landfill Space
Not recycling batteries means throwing them in the trash. And when we do that, we are consuming landfill space.
Why is Recycling Batteries GOOD?
Now that we know why not recycling batteries is bad, let us not leave it there. Let's get positive and talk about reasons why recycling is good. Once again, here are five to start with:
1. Recycling Means Less Waste
By its very nature, recycling anything means producing less waste. The more waste we can keep out of landfills and incinerators, the better it is for the environment.
2. Fewer Virgin Resources Are Needed
Battery manufacturing requires a lot of natural resources, whether you are making lithium-ion USB-C rechargeable batteries or their alkaline counterparts. Recycling recovers usable materials, thereby requiring fewer virgin resources to make new cells. As reclaiming materials through recycling gets ever more efficient, it’s possible the world will meet its demand for some materials entirely through recapturing materials through recycling…we hope!
3. Recycling Can Save Money
Recycling batteries, especially lithium-ion cells, can save money in the manufacturing process. Lithium is costly to mine. So the less we have to mine, the less we spend on manufacturing, the easier it is for more people to make the switch away from single use batteries.
4. It Boosts Sustainability Efforts
Everything from conserving natural resources to creating less pollution boosts our collective sustainability impact. We are all about sustainability here at Paleblue Earth. We hope you are, too.
5. It Gives us all a Chance to Contribute
It is easy to feel like there is little we can do as individuals to make a difference in creating a more sustainable world. Recycling batteries is a reminder that we can contribute. Just in our small community, our local recycling center collects four 55-gallon drums of household batteries every 3 months. They add up fast and we are thankful for their work. (Shoutout to Recycle Utah!) If everyone who used consumer batteries actually recycled them, the collective effort would make an enormous difference.We truly hope that you are committed to battery recycling. We urge you to take every lithium-ion USB-C rechargeable battery you purchase from Paleblue to a collection center when it reaches end-of-life. It is a good thing to do. Check out the drop-off locator on www.call2recycle.org to find a drop off near you.