The members of the non-profit Corporation for Battery Recycling, including five of the largest battery brands in the U.S., are planning the launch of a collection and recycling program for household batteries across the country next year.
Batteries are incredibly useful in our wired and connected culture, but they also represent a conundrum for us as the end user. It's easy and cheap and convenient to buy new ones when they run out of juice, but what do you do with the old batteries? If the casual behavior that I've witnessed concerning batteries is any indication, the majority of them end up in the trash can and get buried in landfills with the rest of our waste. While great strides have been made in rechargeable battery technology, the vast numbers of batteries bought and consumed every year are the so-called 'disposable' kind (which are claimed by manufacturers to be "non-hazardous" and are said to be able to be disposed of with normal household waste).
But if a proposed nationwide household battery recycling program gets off the ground next year, it may make it much easier for us to make sure the batteries come "full circle" for resource recovery and preventing their improper disposal. By reclaiming some of the battery materials (zinc, manganese and steel, for instance), fewer virgin materials are needed, which can offset part of the environmental impact of resource extraction.
Duracell, Energizer, Kodak, Panasonic and Rayovac are among the brands behind the Corporation for Battery Recycling, which is currently looking for an organization "to act as the ‘Stewardship Organization (SO)’ responsible for managing and delivering an environmentally positive and cost effective national program for recycling primary household batteries."
According to Environmental Leader, the group was formed after seeing that the results of an MIT life-cycle consumer battery analysis showed that collection and recycling of batteries could be a net-positive process for the environment.
"A core tenet of the program is to have a net environmentally positive system for all batteries, measured against a baseline of environmental impact of landfilling batteries under current assumptions. CBR says proposals must include recommendations for how to continuously improve the environmental impact of batteries, using four metrics: reducing human health impacts, ecosystem quality, global warming potential and resource depletion including energy demand." - Environmental Leader
According to RecycleBattery.org, the group proposes to launch its national recycling program beginning in April of 2013. Find out more information about the RFP at their website.