Giving new life to used batteries
By Michelle Janzso
April 26, 2019
Did you know that batteries can and should be recycled when they reach their end-of-life?
Batteries can contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Battery recycling helps keep potentially toxic materials from entering the waste stream, taking up space in landfill, threatening wildlife and causing unnecessary fires. Battery recycling also helps reclaim re-useable metals and chemicals from the original battery.
Although you can’t include batteries with your regular household recycling pick-up, Staples stores across Canada accept used batteries at the in-store recycling centres. You can drop off all kinds of batteries for recycling including: regular household batteries (from flashlights, keyboards, remotes, gaming consoles and headsets, toys, ride on cars, etc), rechargeable batteries, batteries from power tools, and batteries from two-way radios and alarm and security systems.
As batteries help power up our everyday lives, it’s important to make sure we’re responsibly using and recycling them. Here’s how to get more out of your batteries and how to dispose of them at their end-of-life:
Lengthening your battery life
To make the most of your single-use or rechargeable batteries, store them in a cool, dry place. Sparking incidents can occur when batteries (or the devices they power such as a cellphone or tablet) are exposed to inclement or excessively hot weather. Store them in a plastic container and away from metal objects.
What to do with your used batteries
In general, there are two types of household batteries: Single-use batteries that can be used until their power runs out, and rechargeable batteries, which can be powered up repeatedly for multiple uses. Before dropping off your batteries for recycling, proper protection is needed to prevent safety incidents (including a spark that could lead to a fire) during the battery recycling journey. Follow the tips below to ensure your batteries can be safely recycled.
For non-lithium single-use batteries (typical consumer household batteries): Place single-use batteries in a clear bag, such as a sandwich bag. Call2Recycle, Staples’ battery recycling program, provides clear bags at its boxes. Seal the bag and drop it in the box.
For rechargeable batteries: Taping the exposed terminals of batteries (or alternatively, bagging) can help prevent the battery from rubbing against other batteries, metals or potentially flammable materials, which could result in fires or other damage. Tape the terminal end of each rechargeable battery with duct tape, electrical tape or another non-conductive tape, then place and seal them in one of the clear bags provided at the Call2Recycle box or in your own sandwich bag.
If you aren’t sure about the battery type: If you aren’t sure if your batteries are lithium-based or rechargeable, tape the terminal end with duct tape, electrical tape or another non-conductive tape for safety, then bag the batteries and place them in the Call2Recycle box.
If a battery is swollen, corroded, leaking or damaged: Immediately store it in a non-flammable material such as sand or kitty litter in a cool, dry place. Then, place the battery (one per bag) in a clear plastic bag and take it to your municipal household hazardous waste (HHW) recycling centre. Do not throw it in the garbage for any reason.
All the batteries collected at Staples are picked up through the Call2Recycle Canada collection and recycling program. Once your batteries are picked up for recycling, they are transported to a sorting facility where they are sorted and separated according to type, size, shape and chemistry. Sorted batteries are then sent to processors where the batteries are broken apart through a mechanical separation process. The battery components are separated, and materials are reclaimed for use in the manufacturing of new products, including new batteries, watches, golf clubs and small appliances.
Getting in the habit of recycling your batteries can have a big, positive impact on the environment. Every year, millions of kilograms of used batteries are diverted from landfills in Canada through the Call2Recycle program.
Following these safety steps will ensure that your end-of-life batteries can be safely diverted from landfill and turned into something new. For more information about safe battery recycling visit: https://www.call2recycle.ca/safety/ and to find your nearest Staples drop off location for your used batteries visit: https://www.call2recycle.ca/locator/