(May 2007) The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation reports that 5.6 billion pounds of rechargeable batteries were collected in 2006 in the U.S. and Canada. Participation increased by 18 percent from retailers. Community and public agency participation by businesses had the greatest increase - 48 percent.
Producers, or third parties acting on their behalf, must pay for the collection and recycling and also pay for advertising to encourage consumers to place spent batteries in recycling bins. Batteries weighing less than 1 kg. (2.2 pounds) are considered portable power units. These batteries include small AA sized cells as well as those used in cellular phones. Hans Craen of the European Portable Battery Association (EPBA) said, “ Producers will be dependent on the consumers to hand in batteries, so this is a really good example of shared responsibility.”
Environmental Commissioner Stavros Dimas is pleased with the new ruling and he noted, “The faster we start to collect and recycle batteries, the better for the environment.”
The rules also ban the sale of batteries which contain more than 0.0005% or mercury, and portable batteries with more than 0.002% cadmium. Batteries in alarm systems, medical equipment and cordless power tools are exempt from this rule.
Currently, there are about 800,000 tons of automotive batteries and 190,000 tons of industrial batteries on the EU market each year. Consumer batteries account for about 160,000 tons.
Pierre Conrath of Eurobat said, “For automotive and industrial batteries you have already a high collection and recycling rate so for this brand of the industry, the directive doesn’t have too much of an impact.” +
(March 2006) California adds more batteries and cell phones to E-waste in February 2006. These items are not to be placed in a garbage container but must be disposed of in special collections of electronic waste. The new law was needed as Mark Murphy from the Californians Against Waste noted, “We have over 500,000 tons of toxic electronics that are being illegally disposed of in landfills in California every year.” Not only are rechargeable batteries included in this new law but also Alkaline batteries. According to an article on 10.news.com in San Diego (01/20/06), environmentalists are pushing state lawmakers to add a California Refund Value of 5 to 10 cents to Alkaline batteries so that more consumers will be motivated to properly dispose of them.
The Battery Council International reports that Lead-acid batteries top recycling list. Between 1999 and 2003, 99.2 percent (or 11.7 billion pounds of lead) were recycled. This is considerably higher than other recyclable commodities. The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) lists 2003 recycling rates of materials. After Number one, Lead-acid batteries, the next commodity is steel cans with only a 60.0% recycling rate.
The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation in Canada reports increases in their battery collection. During the first six months of 2005, 180,000 pounds of rechargeable batteries were collected, this is an increase of 8.5 percent from 2004. Many of these batteries come from old cell phones. The batteries collected by this organization include: Nickel-cadmium, Lithium-ion, Nickel-metal hydride and small Sealed Lead-acid. The metals in these batteries are reusable.
The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) states that North Americans recycled 7.7% more batteries in 2004 than in 2003. For 2004, the nonprofit group’s recycling program collected more than 4.4 million pounds of rechargeable batteries in the U.S. and Canada.
INFORM, Inc., a national environmental research organization, notes that these figures are falling below expectations. Although the figures initially look positive, Bette Fishbein, INFORM’s senior fellow commented that the goals of RBRC created in 1998 are not being met. Ms. Fishbein noted that “in 1998 RBRC forecast recycling 14.3 million pounds of batteries in 2003 and 16.9 million pounds by 2004 in the U.S.
By 2005, roughly 200 million cell phones will be in use in the U.S. according to INFORM. A survey conducted by the Rechargeable Battery Association (RBRC) reveals that 70% of users are unaware that cell phones (and their batteries) are recyclable.
Approximately 2.5 million phones were collected to be refurbished or recycled from 1999 to early 2003. This is less than 1% of the known used cell phones currently in the U.S.
Beginning in late April 2004, RCRC’s new Call2RecycleTM program is featuring 30,000 retail collection locations across the nation where consumers can drop off old cell phones. The rechargeable batteries in the phones will be recycled through RCRB’s existing retail channels.
(Information in the graph is based on statistics from the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Assoc.) +
(May 2004) In April 2004, The European Parliament voted in favor of a 50% collection target for portable batteries for recycling. The Environment Committee said the targets should be linked to national batteries sales rather than 160 grams per person per year as stated earlier.
The European Commission has proposed a new Battery Directive for collection and recycling of batteries placed in the EU market.
Some of the Battery Directive Proposals include:
•Ban on landfilling or incineration of 100% of automotive and industrial batteries
•Collection target for consumer batteries of 160 grams per inhabitant each year
•Additional collection target of 80% for Nickel-cadmium consumer batteries
•Recycling target of 65% by weight for Lead-acid batteries, collected, including all the lead within those batteries
•Recycling target of 75% for Nickel-cadmium batteries collected, including all the cadmium within those batteries
•Recycling target of 55% for all other batteries
Existing legislation on batteries only applied to batteries containing certain quantities of cadmium, lead and mercury and only covers about 7% of consumer batteries.
(Data and information is from www.letsrecycle.com. Additional information also appears on this site.)
(Oct. 2003) The United Kingdom gets its first Lithium-ion recycling plant. AEA Technology is building a plant in East Sutherland.
(Sept. 2003) One rechargeable battery can replace 300 throwaway batteries because many rechargeables can be recharged up to a 1,000 times before needing to be recycled, hopefully, not discarded in the trash.
The average American household owns 25 battery-powered devices, and the majority use primary Alkalines to operate them. Most Alkalines are just thrown in the trash and end up in land fills. Tiny button batteries, used is hearing aids and watches are usually just tossed out; users are unaware that many of these contain mercury, a metal which is toxic to humans when inhaled or ingested. Although there are many national and regional recycling programs, there are still about 146,000 tons of battery waste sent to Land fills annually in the U.S. because batteries of all types are not recycled.
(August 2003) The Battery Council International shows high marks for lead recycling. The current reports shows that between 1997 and 2001 the battery industry recycled 97.1 percent of spent battery lead, leaving no more than 2.9 percent. To better understand the 2.9 percent figure, BCI conducted poll in the ‘90s that showed that almost 20 percent of American households reported having at least one old Lead-acid battery in the garage or shed. Since 2001, AAA has collected more than 25,000 old Lead-acid batteries during its Great Battery Roundup for Earth Day. The Lead-acid industry holds one of the best recycling records in comparison with other battery chemistries and manufacturers of other recyclable products such as aluminum (54.6 percent) and paper (45.4 percent). Figures for aluminum and paper recycling are found on the EPA website and are listed for the year 2000.
Toxco begins Alkaline battery recycling in Trail, British Columbia. Data shows that eighty percent of all batteries manufactured are Alkaline batteries, with annual production of over 10 billion cells worldwide. Most of those cells are disposed of in landfills, representing hundreds of millions of pounds of solid waste. Steve Kinsbursky, president of Toxco Waste Management said, “Recovery of usable materials from Alkaline batteries is the way of the future....”
Toxco has also recently acquired Moltech Corporation’s patented cadmium recovery facility and equipment for recycling Nickel-cadmium batteries in Gainsville, Florida. Ozark Fluorine Specialties, a division of Toxco in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will soon be in full production of lithium salts and electrolytes used in the manufacture of lithium batteries and ultra capacitors.(06-02BD75-9)
The Battery Council International notes that more than 2 billion pounds of Lead-acid batteries are recycled each year. The industry can be proud of their 93 percent recycling rate. The EPA shows only 42 percent recycling rate for paper, 40 percent for plastic soft drink bottles and 55 percent for aluminum beer and soft drink cans.
Inform Inc. reports on discarded mobile phones becoming a waste issue. Although not a problem today, mobile phones, by 2005, will produce 65,000 tons of waste. Approximately 130 million portable phones are expected to be discarded by that time. Most of theses discarded phones will end up in landfills or garbage dumps unless recycling policies are put in place. Bette Fishbein, a senior researcher at Inform, estimates that only 20 percent of mobile phone batteries are recycled under current voluntary industry-sponsored guidelines, despite programs such as Verizon’s “New for Two” trade-in program. One recommendation in the report says that U.S. Industry should do more to back global standards efforts for phones. Current international standards put more emphasis on recyclable materials. Globally, plugs and phone chargers must also be standardized, ending the need for separate accessories for each device, another waste generator. “Waste in the Wireless World: The Challenge of Cell Phones” by Bette Fishbein, http://www.informinc.org/cellphone.htm (06-02BD75-8-9)
Toxco Incorporated acquires Moltech Corporation’s patented cadmium recovery facility and equipment for recycling Nickel-cadmium batteries in Florida. (02-01, BD-70-9)
As part of the purchase, Toxco Inc. has acquired the exclusive licensing rights to the technology
Trash bag no place for old PCs (02-01,BD70-14)
E waste is beginning to build and may be far from a peak. Within this junk are CRT’s which have between 5 to 8 pounds of lead in the form of lead oxide. Just as the Lead-acid industry had a revelation regarding recycling, so must this E World take responsibility for all the trash imanufacturers.
The Desert Sun
Sunday December 16, 2001, p. D2