Tips for recycling batteries in Auckland.
What Do I Do with Old batteries?
Disposable alkaline and lithium batteries are literally everywhere in our lives. Think about all batteries in the remotes we have now for the TV, radio, speakers, computer games and heat pumps. Then there’s the kid’s toys, pet toys and adult toys with batteries in them! Automatic pet doors, torches, smoke alarms, garage door remotes, car keys, calculators, mobile phones and other computer gadgets, DIY tools – even hearing aids, fit bits, Garmin sports trackers and regular watches. Take a moment to think about how many batteries you and your family get through each year? Then consider the environmental impact.
8- 10 batteries per person per year is our conservative estimate – which we think seems very reasonable.
The thing is – batteries all contain horrible toxic heavy metals and highly flammable ingredients that should never ever be put in your landfill bin. Metals like Nickel, Mercury, Cadmium and Lead leach out into our soils and water, and lithium batteries (smaller round button like batteries and those found in mobile phones and laptops) can spontaneously combust and have caused major fires. NZ Fire and Emergency reported there were 25 fires during 2018 caused by batteries or battery charging devices. One fire started because someone put their laptop in their recycling bin, and a forklift driver at the recycling centre in Thames ran over it. Earlier in 2019 at the same recycling centre over 50 fire fighters battled a large toxic plastic blaze all through the night- also caused by a lithium ion battery. There have been 4 fires in recycling trucks already in 2020 in Auckland.
Tips for Your Lithium Batteries.
- Lithium batteries last longer if you only charge them to 80 or 90% each time.
- Keep these batteries away from extreme temperatures- especially direct sunlight, and never leave them on your dashboard or on a seat in a hot vehicle.
- These are also extremely dangerous for children and pets if they are swallowed- so keep them safely away from them.
- Once they reach end of life, the best thing to do is tape down each terminal (where you see the + or – sign) and get them dropped off as quickly as possible to your e waste recycler or picked up by a sustainable waste management company like Junk Run!
Recycling Batteries in NZ.
Currently in NZ there are very few recycling drop off points for batteries. That is because we have no recycling facilities here in NZ, and they need to be shipped offshore to a reputable internationally approved recycler in countries like Australia or Japan. NZ exporters must have a coveted Govt approved BASEL licence to handle such waste. As a result, less than 0.2% of all batteries consumed here in NZ are recycled. The rest are “treated” which means encasing them in concrete before they are buried in landfill – (like toxic nuclear waste), to prevent the chemicals leaching out.
Some components particularly those found in lithium batteries are rare and valuable and command a high price on the international markets. Lithium for example has doubled in value in just two short years. Mining for lithium is big business in countries like Australia and Chile- but like any natural resources, supplies are limited and finite- so we need to figure out how to reuse and recycle the lithium already in these batteries – especially as the whole world is moving more towards electric vehicles.
So, What is the Right Thing to do with Your Batteries?
- Reduce the number of gadgets and toys you buy that require batteries.
- Collect your dead batteries up in an old container or paper bag (keeping lithium ones safe).
- Recycle – when you have a good amount deliver them to a reputable recycler (see below). There may well be charges involved as recycling batteries and shipping them overseas is not a lucrative industry- so costs need to be recovered.
- Encourage your employer to pay for battery recycling bins and boxes at your place of work. See below or call Junk Run for more information.
Abilities Group 91 Hillside Road, Glenfield Also offer battery recycling boxes and buckets for your office or workplace
Upcycle Unit 1, 321 Neilson Street, Onehunga Also offer battery recycling boxes and buckets for your office or workplace
Waiuku Zero Waste Waste 5, Hosking Place, Waiuku
Whangaparaoa Community Recycling Centre 637 Whangaparaoa Road, Stanmore Bay
Rustybrook Refuse and Recycling Centre 141 Rustybrook Road, Wellsford
Lawrie Road Refuse & Recycling Centre 55 Lawrie Road, Snells Beach
Eco Matters Unit E, 489 Rosebank Road, Avondale Open Mon 10am – 2pm and Tues 9am – 1pm
Eco Matters Store 1 Olympic Place, New Lynn Open Weds- Sun 10am – 2pm
What About Recycling Car Batteries?
Car batteries contain lead and sulfuric acid as well as lots of plastic. They can be recycled safely. Century Yuasa Battery centres all over NZ will take car batteries back free of charge. Supercheap auto stores around NZ will take them free of charge too. You can also drop your flat car batteries off at most council transfer stations around Auckland. Take care transporting them that you do not get the liquid contents spilled over your skin or your vehicle.
Mobile Phone and Laptop Batteries.
What about old broken mobile phones and laptops with their batteries? Remember first to tape over the charging point – or better still remove the battery completely if you can and tape up the terminals. Old mobile phones can be dropped off at most of the well-known high street telco stores like Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees. Do not forget to delete everything off the phone first though. Laptops can be dropped off to e waste recyclers like Abilities or Ecomatters – again after you have deleted all your personal data. Remember never ever put them in your recycling or landfill bins at home.