Single-use batteries now recyclable throughout Vermont

BATTERY RECYCLINGFlashlights eventually fade to dark. Clocks inevitably run down. Even the Energizer Bunny’s drum beat has to dribble to a stop sometime. When single-use batteries give up the ghost, the only way to get rid of them has been to toss them in the trash — until now!

Starting January 1, 2016, CSWD Drop-Off Centers, CSWD’s Environmental Depot, and about a hundred other sites around Vermont began accepting alkaline single-use batteries for recycling.

To date, CSWD has been able to accept only button-cell, lithium, rechargeable, lead-acid, and NiCd batteries for recycling. We are now adding single-use batteries (also known as “primary” batteries) to the roster of recyclable batteries.

“We are incredibly fortunate in Vermont to have the collaboration of solid waste planning entities, the Vermont Product Stewardship Council (VPSC), the legislative leadership, and others to pass this legislation — the first of its kind in the country,” says Jen Holliday, Product Stewardship Program Manager for CSWD, and chair of VPSC. “This will keep millions of batteries out of the landfill and save resources without costing local government thousands of dollars a year to recycle them, as has been to date.”

About 10 million primary batteries were sold in Vermont in 2010 (the most recent year for which we have data). In Chittenden County alone, we shipped 270 drums of batteries for recycling last year (at an average of 675 pounds per drum, that’s around 182,250 pounds) through this program, costing about $135,000 (about $500 per drum) to properly manage. Now that cost will be borne by the Call2Recycle program.

Vermont is the first state to pass a  product stewardship law that requires manufacturers of single-use batteries to pay for the collection and recycling of their products. CSWD drop-off locations aren’t the only places where you can bring your batteries free of charge: An organization called Call2Recycle is overseeing the state-wide program, setting up nearly 100 collection sites. Since 1994, Call2Recycle has kept 100 million pounds of used batteries out of the landfill in voluntary recycling drop-off points across the country.

Batteries collected through the program are shipped to facilities where they are sorted into battery types. They are then shipped to various North American specialty processors who extract usable chemicals and metals for use in manufacturing new products. Any remaining waste is safely disposed of in special waste sites that adhere to strict management standards. For details, visit http://www.call2recycle.org/physical-flowchart.

 ★ DO NOT  ★  recycle batteries of any kind in your blue recycling bin or cart.They cannot be recycled with bottles, cans, paper, and other mandatory recyclables. They must be brought to a Drop-Off Center, the Environmental Depot, or a Call2Recycle drop-off location for recycling.

Product stewardship laws are designed to shift product waste management from the shoulders of the government and taxpayers to manufacturers. When manufacturers are required to run responsible disposal programs for their own products, they have an extra incentive to design them to be easier to recycle and to contain fewer hazardous materials that require special — and expensive — handling.

For more information about product stewardship, please visit the Product Stewardship Institute, the Vermont Product Stewardship Council, and CSWD’s product stewardship web page.

Got other questions? We’re here to help! Please call CSWD’s hotline at (802) 872-8111.

Jonny
Jonny
Marketing & Communications Manager at CSWD
Jonny joined CSWD as Web & Marketing Specialist in 2014, after several years in Asia and Africa where he ran websites, film projects, classrooms, and half marathons. Originally from Virginia, he was drawn to Vermont's strong sense of community, apple cider, and the search for Champ.