Nationwide push underway to recycle batteries

August 2, 2010 9:42:04 PM PDT
Everything from cell phones to digital music players rely on batteries these days and what consumers do with those batteries when they are no good anymore, can make a big difference.

San Francisco is considered a leader when it comes to recycling just about anything. Now a nationwide push is underway to get the rest of the country to catch up.

Rows and rows of batteries line the wall of RadioShack. Once they are bought and used, disposing of them properly can make a big impact. San Francisco is one of 22 Bay Area communities with curbside battery recycling programs serviced by Recology.

"We're trying to help the city of San Francisco to get to zero waste. That means San Francisco wants to send absolutely nothing to the landfill," says Robert Reed from Recology.

The batteries being unloaded from one truck represent just one days worth of pickups in San Francisco. City residents are responsible for more than two thirds of the 100 tons of batteries recycled by Recology last year in the Bay Area.

San Franciscans are encouraged to leave their batteries in Ziplock bags on top of their garbage cans on pick up day.

"Batteries can have some metals in them, and you just want to keep all that out of the landfill as much as possible," says Reed.

Workers separate the batteries before they are transported to a smelter and made into different metal products. But even more effective in reducing waste, is using rechargeable batteries.

"Everybody's sort of moving in the direction of rechargeable, so that's one step towards being eco-friendly," says Nicole Tweed from RadioShack.

But even rechargeable batteries can lose their charge. That's why Lowe's, Staples and RadioShack nationwide are joining forces to recycle rechargeable batteries as well.

"It is free and we take pretty much all types of rechargeable batteries: nickel, cadmium, nickel metal hydride, lithium ion and even the sealed lead acid batteries, the alarm system batteries, if they're under 11 pounds," says Tweed.

The Call 2 Recycle program is challenging Americans to drop off one million pounds of rechargeable batteries before Oct. 1. In the last 15 years, the program has collected 55 million batteries.

"I think more people are conscious of what's going on around them. They're trying not to do anything that's going to damage our environment any further," says Tweed.

"We need to get away from single-use products in this country and get closer to reusable products, rechargeable batteries is one example, a canvas tote bag is another example, something you can use again and again," says Reed.


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