We’ve tallied the results of our first Recharge the Environment poll and the winner is… (drum roll)
Compulsory battery stewardship for producers! The runner up, recycle used batteries with regular recycling.
So what are the pros and cons of these and how could Australia implement them as realistic recycling options?
First, compulsory battery stewardship has been mentioned a lot on the blog and is part of the reason why Lilly and I began Recharge the Environment. Some of the feedback we got from the poll was that people didn’t understand what this entailed.
In a nutshell, product stewardship is when producers of a product take responsibility of what happens to their products throughout their lifecycle. It’s an increasingly important issue as many products we buy have very short life spans, especially electronic products. It means being environmentally and finically responsible for what happens to their products even after they are taken off the shelves. Specifically with batteries, this is important because of high toxicity and likelihood of leakage after use. This is also a large issue because of the lack of understanding among Australians and the low rate of proper disposal. Making companies responsible means they must provide free and safe ways for their customers to recycle their products.
At the moment Australia is undergoing the process of implementing voluntary stewardship But we feel this does not go far enough. If battery companies wanted to take full responsibility they would have already. Thus making it compulsory (or as I talked about in this post, giving the incentive) for companies is the only real way to make real changes in the industry.
The second most popular option was, recycling used batteries with our regular recycling. This is most certainly the easiest for consumers as it requires the least amount of effort and is already a well established habit for all household and businesses in Australia.
There are several problems that come up with this option. We cannot put our used batteries in our recycling bins. Firstly, it will contaminate the materials that we already recycle. Secondly, it may become a hazard for people who work in the recycling industry. Batteries in Australia are classified as hazardous waste and therefore require specific permits and ways of transportation.
Lilly and I had a discussion about this recently and thought of two ways that this could be implemented.
a) A separate bin for ALL batteries types. This requires creating an entirely new waste pick-up system, which in itself would very difficult and expensive.
b) A program similar to Mobile Muster, which provides appropriate storage containers to every household.
Mobile Muster, is a product stewardship campaign and one which has had positive result and industry support. In fact when I bought a phone the other day there was a bag inside advertising mobile muster, in which I could put any old phones, batteries and charges and recycle for free at designated drop-off point.
Considering the rising number of drop-off points in Australia for batteries, I think we are well on our way to responsible use. Maybe what we need is a combination of initiatives? Still it comes down to us, the consumer, the public, because at the end of the day producers and the government have to respond to what we want!
As always guys, stay mindful and tell your friends… Lets recharge the environment together!
In the spirit of recycling hopefully this wil brighten up your Sunday!