An Environment Canada report says we're tossing toxins-laden batteries into landfill at an alarming rate. The rechargeable battery biz is funding recycling programs, but, clearly, not everyone's getting the message. And the city seems to be making it as inconvenient as possible to drop off dead single-use batteries at a sprinkling of hard-to-access depots.
Buried in the landfill 348 million batteries in 2004 (11,623 tonnes).
The real shocker That number will jump nearly 50 per cent by 2010.
The biggest culprits Single-use batteries containing a small amount of neurotoxic mercury make up the bulk of landfilled batteries, but cellphone, cordless power tool and laptop computer batteries release many times more heavy metals -- like lead, cadmium, mercury and nickel -- per unit.
What the feds say "It is not possible to determine if metals and other contaminants are being released from consumer batteries in landfill in sufficient quantities to be a potential environmental or human health concern."
In the next breath "There is a significant concern regarding the potential for counterfeit batteries to contain unacceptable levels of mercury."
What other jurisdictions are doing
• Europe has established programs for the recovery, treatment and disposal of waste batteries, and restricts the sale of certain batteries.
• In the U.S., some states have banned disposal of NiCd (nickel cadmium) batteries and those containing mercury.
Household hazardous waste programs are diverting a pathetic 2 per cent of alkaline batteries from landfill. Producer takeback program the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation collected only 5 per cent of hazardous rechargeables in 04.
How to take it back:
Return rechargeables to
Battery Plus/Future Shop/Home Depot/Home Hardware/Sears/the Sony Store/the Source by Circuit City/Staples/Zellers/all cell dealers
Both rechargeables and non-rechargeables can be brought to six of the city's isolated waste depots twice a week, or to the rotating Environment Days that come to your 'hood only once yearly.