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Zero Waste Scotland urges people to recycle their used batteries


By John Davidson

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Store used batteries separately for recycling.
Store used batteries separately for recycling.

A quarter of Scots are dumping batteries in with normal household rubbish, wasting valuable resources and damaging the environment.

Zero Waste Scotland urged people to recycle their used batteries a survey carried out for the organisation revealed the extent of the problem.

It says batteries contain valuable materials, so binning them when they run out wastes resources that can be reclaimed and reused in other products. They also damage the environment as they are most likely to end up in landfill where they will decay, release toxic metals, increase the risk of water pollution and cause potential onsite fires at landfill sites or waste plants.

Batteries can be easily recycled at most major supermarkets, at household waste recycling centres or a waste electronic and electrical equipment recycling point. This will recover valuable materials, keep resources in use for longer and reduces pollution.

The most popular means of disposal is via battery bins found at retail outlets, with 39 per cent of people saying they already do this. A further 21 per cent said they used a household waste recycling centre or public recycling facility when disposing of their batteries.

Zero Waste Scotland welcomed these positive figures, highlighting that many households are recycling batteries, but urged all consumers to do their bit.

Adrian Bond, recycling manager for Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Some people may not be aware that batteries should never be disposed of alongside general household waste.

“Recycling batteries is easy and possible in more places than some people might realise. Shops that sell large volumes of batteries have to provide a battery recycling collection. So next time you’re in the supermarket look out for a collection point.

“People can make a significant difference simply by storing batteries in their home until they have enough to take to their nearest collection point. Once used up, small household batteries such as AA and AAA batteries should be removed and stored in a plastic container like an ice cream or margarine tub and kept in a cool, dry place at normal room temperature. Once the container is full batteries can then be taken to your nearest collection point such as a supermarket or recycling centre, many of which are open during the pandemic."

Lithium-ion batteries – the type of battery found in laptops, tablets, and other gadgets – should be removed, if possible, from the device when switched off. The used battery should then be stored in a cool, dry place at normal room temperature until it can be taken to a recycling centre or a waste electronic and electrical equipment recycling point.

Batteries are small and easy to store without too much fuss. But there are simple rules to follow to protect yourself and your battery-using equipment:

  • Don’t store batteries inside equipment for long periods of time
  • Once batteries are depleted remove them from equipment as soon as possible
  • Avoid storing batteries in metal containers
  • Keep new and used batteries apart.

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