Recycle Those Batteries!

Batteries can easily be recycled, anywhere in Canada.

These days, batteries are everywhere. Clocks, toys, remotes, electronic gadgets, cordless phones, and more: all run on batteries.

And whether they’re single use or rechargeable, or whether they’re AAA, 9 volt or D size, all batteries have something in common. They’re made of materials that don’t belong in a landfill.

But batteries can easily be recycled, anywhere in Canada. Here’s the why and how on battery recycling.

Why recycle?

There are two important reasons to recycle batteries.

First, the main materials they contain – iron, manganese, nickel and zinc – are far too valuable for a landfill. They can be recovered and reprocessed into new products, avoiding the need for new mines. (That’s more important than one might think; mines have enormous environmental impacts, from scars on the land to noxious tailings left behind for generations.)

Secondly, some of the other materials batteries contain – lead, cadmium and mercury – are hazardous. Over time, they can leach out of landfills and contaminate surrounding soil and water. On this count, rechargeable batteries tend to be especially guilty.

In spite of the importance of recycling batteries, many still end up in our landfills.  According to Statistics Canada, only about half of Canadian households recycle batteries. Recycling rates are highest in PEI and Quebec. 

Battery recycling made easy

But here’s good news: battery recycling is available right now across Canada, thanks to Call2Recycle. It’s a non-profit organization established in 1994 by battery manufacturers for the specific purpose of collecting and recycling used household batteries. 

Call2Recycle has over 34,000 collection sites across Canada and the US, where used batteries and old cell phones can be dropped off at no cost.  Drop-off locations are typically at hardware stores (for example, participating Home Depot, Canadian Tire and Home Hardware stores), retail stores (for example, participating Staples and The Source stores), solid waste commissions or even municipal offices.  Some are even located at schools and workplaces!

Drop-off locations are simple to find: just visit call2recycle and enter your postal code; a map will pop up showing the nearest drop-off locations.  When heading to work or elsewhere, you can even enter your home and destination postal codes, and a map will show all the drop-off locations along your way – so there’s no need for a special trip! According to Call2Recycle, ninety per cent of Canadians live within 15 kilometres of a drop-off location, and the goal is to increase that to 95 per cent.

Take action

If there is no collection site where you live, work, shop or go to school, why not take the initiative and create one? It’s simple! Call2recycle can provide all the information and material you need! If you’re not ready to commit to full-time collecting, why not consider a one-time blitz?  That’s what the students of George Street Middle School in Fredericton, New Brunswick did recently. The result? 2468 batteries and old cell phones that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill were collected for recycling – and the school is now maintaining a permanent drop off bin!

One last thought: since reusing is better than recycling, why not invest in rechargeable batteries?  They’re cheaper and less wasteful in the long run – but be sure to recycle them when they’re done.

The next time you change batteries – whether in a clock, a toy or something else – please don’t throw those old batteries out; drop them off at your nearest Call2Recycle collection site.