More than 60 per cent of Canadians improperly dispose of their used batteries, according to Raw Materials Company survey
TORONTO, Oct. 26, 2011
Almost 90 per cent of Canadians are aware of negative environmental effects of sending batteries to landfill, according to Angus Reid survey; Only 28 per cent currently utilize local battery recycling programs
TORONTO, Oct. 26, 2011 /CNW/ - Despite widespread awareness of the negative environmental effects of sending batteries to landfill, only 37 per cent of Canadians properly dispose of their used batteries, according to a Raw Materials Company survey, released today. While 87 per cent of respondents reported awareness of the detrimental effects improperly disposed batteries have on the environment, a mere 28 per cent currently utilize recycling programs, with an additional 11 per cent reporting to a hazardous waste centre.
The effects of improper battery disposal are severe - 1 mg of mercury is enough to make all the fish in a 20 acre lake inedible for a full year. With almost 11 mg of mercury in the average button cell, alkaline battery1, Canadians' awareness of the implications of improper disposal is in stark contrast to the realities of the situation.
"With such dire health and environmental consequences resulting from batteries that aren't recycled, driving a change in Canadians' behavior is crucial for our country's long-term wellbeing," says James Ewles, President of Raw Materials Company. "It's quite surprising to see such a contrast between awareness and behaviour, which is why we aim to increase responsible recycling by making it more accessible to consumers throughout the country."
The Angus Reid poll shows that Canadians' behaviours surrounding battery recycling is largely motivated by a lack of awareness. With thousands of battery recycling depots across the country, 76 per cent of survey respondents indicated that they were not aware of any programs in local stores. Furthermore, 74 per cent indicated a lack of drop boxes in their local community, with 81 per cent willing to change their behaviours with greater access to recycling programs.
In recent months, Ontario has increased accessibility to battery recycling as Canada's first jurisdiction to offer incentives for battery recycling and recovery under the provincial Municipal Household Hazardous and Special Waste (MHSW) program. As a result, Ontario has seen an expansion in local collections over the course of the spring and summer. The challenge is to now build on the success of the incentive program to increase public awareness while continuing to expand the collection network across Ontario.
"As we work to reduce our environmental footprint in other areas, it's important to consider the implications of all our interactions with the environment," adds Ewles. "As we continue to take steps to prevent harmful discharge of toxins, it's crucial that as Canadians, we commit to making battery recycling a top priority."
In addition to environmental awareness, Canadians are also aware that battery recycling has not yet gained prominence. 75 per cent of respondents believe that less than 20 per cent of batteries are recycled in Canada. Surprisingly, past reports from Environment Canada estimate this number to be much lower, with 5 only per cent single-use, disposable of batteries in Canada properly disposed of in 2007.
When properly recycled, the materials inside a battery can be used to replace raw materials in the manufacture of a wide variety of products. While casings are often used to create new batteries, other uses include metal recovery for use in the manufacture of automobiles. Reclaimed stainless steel is used in the manufacture of wide variety of products. Internal battery components such as manganese and zinc can be processed for reuse as nutrients in agricultural fertilizer.
Respondents indicated a heightened awareness of issues such as harmful substances leaking into the soil (98 per cent) and contamination of water and soil (93 per cent), while issues such as human ingestion/inhalation of harmful materials (67 per cent) and increased generation of landfill gas, leading to global climate change (70 per cent) were less recognized.
Unlike many industry players, RMC recycles up to 87 % of the contents of an alkaline battery. The materials are recovered through higher order recycling to produce new products and commodities, and are not converted to slag or road aggregate, with zero waste sent to landfill. The recovered commodities from the batteries are all reused within a five hundred mile radius of our recycling facility, with the majority consumed locally, limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
About Raw Materials Company
Raw Materials Company (RMC) is an international waste and resource recycling organization. Established in 1985, RMC quickly rose to become an international leader in waste and resource recycling. With programs serving both the residential and commercial/industrial sector, RMC offers convenient and reliable solutions for responsible recycling, and has diverted over 200 million pounds of waste from landfills. In addition to battery recycling programs through retail, municipal and industrial partners, RMC also offers a full suite of responsible waste management services, ranging from electronic waste recycling to mercury, lamp and bulb recycling to metal recovery programs. For more information, please visit www.rawmaterials.com
1 Based on analytical analysis of various spent dry cell batteries collected in Ontario