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05 Dec 2014 5:00 PM • 2305 West 7th Ave., Vancouver

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Battery Backgrounder

There are two types of batteries: wet cells and dry cells .

Wet cells are large batteries generally used in automotive and industrial applications. Most provinces, including BC, ban wet cell batteries from landfills.  Find out what you can do with wet cell batteries in the Battery FAQ section below.

Dry cells are usually small batteries that power flashlights, radios and other cordless appliances. There are two types of dry cell batteries: rechargeable and single use (non-rechargeable).
  • Rechargeable Batteries:

    Approximately 10 per cent of all batteries sold are rechargeable. These batteries contain toxic metals such as cadmium, lithium and nickel. According to a study made by UNIROSS, a European leader in rechargeable batteries, (and endorsed by WWF), rechargeable batteries are a more environmentally sound choice than single use batteries. UNIROSS claims that rechargeable batteries, thanks to their ability to be reused multiple times, consume less energy and natural resources, use less transportation and packaging and cause less air acidification (due to incineration) than single-use batteries.

  • Non-Rechargeable Batteries

    Today, most batteries sold are non-rechargeable dry cells that utilize alkaline technology. In the past they contained mercury, a highly toxic material. Canadian producers voluntarily stopped using mercury in the early 1990’s following bans in the US, Japan and Europe, however mercury is still used in small amounts in button cell batteries.

New Battery Recycling Legislation in BC

Call2Recycle was approved in Jan 2010 as the first government-mandated consumer battery collection and recycling program in North America, selected for implementation throughout the province by the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment.

Call2Recycle now accepts all household batteries free of charge.  With an existing infrastructure of 1,200 retailers, municipalities, businesses and public agencies to drop your batteries off you can always find a d battery drop location near you.

Find your nearest Call2Recycle battery drop off location.

Battery FAQ

Where do my batteries end up once Call2Recycle has collected them?
According to Call2Reycle, batteries collected through their battery recycling program are sent with Purolator to a sorting facility in Newalta in Fort Erie, Ontario. The batteries are then sorted and sent to one of the following recycling companies depending on their chemistry:

INMETCO in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, US
Recycles Nickel-Cadmiun (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), and Nickel Zinc (Ni-Zn) using High Temperature Metals Recovery Process (HTMR). The waste nickel-iron waste product form the batteries are later sold to steel industries to create stainless steel. The cadmium is recovered to make new cadmium batteries.

Xstrata Smelter in Falconbridge, ON, Canada
Recover nickel and cobalt from the Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries.

Nova Pb, Inc. located in Ville Ste-Catherine, QB, Canada
Recover the lead from small sealed Lead Acid (Pb) batteries. The lead is later used to manufacture new car lead acid batteries.
Where can I recycle my old  car battery?
In BC, car batteries can be returned to major retailers, such as Canadian Tire, as part of a provincial recycling program that collects close to 100 per cent of batteries. You can also drop-off car batteries at the City of Vancouver transfer station and most automotive repair shops for free.

Real Battery Solutions

Remember, there are no environmental friendly batteries! SPEC recommends that you:
  • Purchase rechargeable batteries since these can be used over and over again
  • Don’t throw batteries into normal waste, recycle them!
  • Use as few batteries as possible
Battery Storage Tip:
Store all batteries (new and spent) in a cool, dark place to extend their life span and avoid leaching. If you are collecting batteries for recycling, collect them in a plastic or glass container.

What Do You Do With Your Batteries?

This animation asks people what they do with their batteries and will help answer your questions about where batteries live and why it's important to recycle them.


SPEC thanks Roy Was Here Creative Studio for creating this video. 

See more SPEC videos
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