There’s a battle over battery recycling and materials recovery processes brewing in Ontario, Canada. A proposed new battery recycling program could threaten the local industry and jobs, and impact the US environment as well.
Expanding its commitment to environmental sustainability, LEI Products’ Certified Carbonfree® Eco Alkalines Batteries™ recently partnered with Raw Materials Company (RMC) to support 100% recycling of its batteries. In addition to assessing the batteries’ full life cycle carbon emissions and neutralizing those emissions through Carbonfund.org, Eco Alkalines wanted to ensure that their battery was truly sustainable through the end-of-use and disposal portion of its life cycle.
RMC uses an innovative mechanical process that crushes the batteries to separate all of the component materials. 100% of each battery is reused and up to 92% is up-cycled. The paper and plastic from alkaline batteries, which makes up approximately 8% to 15% of the battery depending on type, is used to produce energy. RMC’s process to recycle alkaline batteries creates negligible greenhouse gas emissions and produces zero secondary waste — none of the component materials are sent to the landfill. Additionally, all of the recovered materials are consumed locally within 300 miles of RMC.
By partnering with RMC, Eco Alkalines is confident that the end-of-life processing of the batteries achieves the greatest possible recycling and environmental outcomes.
But the recent revelation that Waste Diversion Ontario is actively considering a proposal by a company called Call2Recycle, which could potentially wipe out Raw Materials Company, is causing concerns ranging from potential job losses to compromised environmental standards.
Eco Alkalines Batteries™ does not support the proposal put forth by Call2Recycle to process old batteries, as they view this alternative for battery recycling as a return to more wasteful and environmentally harmful methods.
It’s also worth noting that Call2Recycle’s proposal likely would result in exporting the battery recycling, and its attendant waste and carbon dioxide emissions, to the US.
So why would Waste Diversion Ontario, be considering another option for battery recycling, especially since the Canadian government currently is considering a proposed Waste Reduction Act, Bill 91, with progressive new recycling standards?
Call2Recycle, who represents major battery players Duracell and Energizer, has historically used Pennsylvania-based smelter company INMETCO to process old batteries. Not only would a move to Care2Recycle’s proposal likely put RMC out of business, eliminating the employment of close to 50 Ontario residents in a period marked by economic instability, but also it likely would prove to be a much less environmentally sound option. The smelting process is cheap; however, the environmental performance is extremely poor because a steel smelter was not designed to recycle alkaline batteries. The burning process creates unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions as well as a secondary waste called slag, which contains high concentrations of heavy metals. This slag is often used as filler for asphalt roads and considered by most to be a waste as it cannot be re-used.
Call2Recycle may be able to quote a lower bid, but the costs to the local Ontario economy and the impact on the environment may well outweigh the perceived benefit of a reduction in Canada’s government spending. Carbonfund.org joins Eco Alkalines Batteries ™ in supporting innovative product recycling, reclamation and reuse developed by companies like Raw Materials Company.