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Looking at eWaste - Batteries

 
 

One of our key drivers at MyTechies is to minimise the environmental impact of our business, and to help our clients do the same.

As a tech business, batteries are a resource we are using constantly, and they can be something of a dirty little secret when you start to look at their product lifecycle.  Although batteries are a relatively small component of waste in terms of volume, they have a high impact both in terms of source materials used in their production, and waste when disposed of improperly.

The good news is that the lithium ion batteries used in most electronic devices like laptops and smartphones are relatively easy to recycle - if directed to the right facility.  

But what about all those ubiquitous AA and AAA batteries in wireless devices, remotes and cameras?  Unfortunately it is a lot harder to recycle those - in fact in Auckland the council appears to have simply given up, and recommends that you dispose of them with your general rubbish, headed for the landfill!

A 2013 Tonkin & Taylor report for Auckland Council found that approximately 2,800 tonnes of batteries were imported annually into the Auckland region, 86% of which were single-use alkaline batteries.

The report also concludes that relatively low toxicity in the majority of batteries presents a lower cost/benefit in terms of recycling priorities, which leaves any recycling effort up to voluntary activities.

The best solution we can see therefore, is to reduce the number of batteries consumed by switching to rechargeables.  We have not been able to identify sources of rechargeable button cell batteries, however Engergizer, Varta et al produce 9V rechargeables, and there are a wide variety of AA and AAA batteries and chargers available.

Consumer NZ rates the Eneloop batteries from Panasonic and we agree based on our experience to date.

We recommend:

  •  Buy Eneloop Pro AA and AAA batteries
  •  Get spare batteries so you don’t get caught out while one set is charging
  •  Get the Quick/Smart charger - this enables fast charging, and also prevents overcharging your batteries.

Although they cost more upfront, using rechargeable batteries rather than single use batteries should pay for themselves within a year according to Consumer.

Replacement batteries for your laptop or smartphone can usually be sourced from your IT supplier or a repair specialist such as DuctTape (for Apple devices).

If you do want to know where you can safely dispose of batteries and ensure they don’t go to landfill, there are now a couple of places in you can direct your batteries to, including Upcycle in Auckland, and EcoTech Services in ChristchurchWith Upcycle you can save some cost by sorting the batteries yourself, alternatively they charge a small fee per/KG to do that for you.

One of the great things about working from  GridAKL is the commitment to sustainability, and I was pleasantly surprised to find not only general recycling, but the battery collection bucket shown above - awesome work BizDojo!

Be sure to store and transport batteries safely.