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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, September 9, 2018

It seems all of us are probably using more and more non-vehicle batteries today. Thus an item in a recent Waste Age newsletter caught my eye. It spoke about the recycling of these other batteries.

The article started, “Call-2Recycle, the Atlanta-based organization that heads up one of the largest consumer battery recycling programs in North America, recently revealed its program’s top performing battery recycling states by comparing collection performance with state population.”

It went on to say, “According to the organization, Vermont topped the list, with Delaware, Tennessee, Minnesota, New Hampshire, California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Maryland and Texas rounding out the top 10.”

It should be noted that throughout the whole country, in 2017, Call2Recycle recycled more than 8 million pounds of batteries.

One of the reasons for Vermont being the top state in recycling batteries last year was because the state was the first to adopt a producer-funded stewardship plan. With a population of only 0.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. (623,657), Vermont recycled 134,500 pounds of batteries – roughly 880 percent more batteries than expected. But I was quite pleased both Minnesota and Texas were also on the list.

Although we knew it was high, the following figures were a little surprising.

“With 95 percent of Americans owning a cellphone and almost 50 percent owning e-readers or portable tablets, battery use is on the rise.”

The use of lithium ion batteries is increasing because of their lighter weight and high energy density. These batteries are also often used in laptops, cellphones and cordless power tools.

The use of such batteries led me to do a quick inventory of how many batteries we use in our homes – in Minnesota and Texas. Besides being in two cellphones, an Ipad and a laptop, many of our cordless tools have them. Some of these tools are two drills, a power driver, a chainsaw, a leaf blower, a string trimmer, a hedge trimmer, a circle saw, a reciprocal-action saw, a caulking gun, a sander, a tire inflater, a ‘Spin’ scrubber and of course several radios.

I know I am not alone in the many items using such batteries. It’s easier and quicker than finding an electric cord, stretching it out, plugging it in, and later putting it away, or gassing up a little engine and getting it started, especially for a minor job.

The article went on to explain the importance of taking proper care when recycling such batteries. This is because, they retain a residual charge that be dangerous if improperly handled.

There are mny reasons to recycle batters, as the article explained, “Battery recycling carries a number of eco-friendly benefits, including preventing potentially hazardous materials from harming the environment, protecting against potential fires by keeping batteries out of the garbage and conserving valuable natural resources.”

Many stores that sell such tools and/or batteries also take back the no longer working ones. Also, the San Marcos city’s hazardous waste collection site (across from the big H-E-B) will take them.

Till next week, do have an enjoyable and safe one.

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Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail omaier@txstate.edu.