In the six months since it launched its battery recycling programme, Pick 'n Pay has collected close to 700kg of used batteries, representing in the region of 30 000 non-rechargeable batteries.
Last year, Pick 'n Pay launched a joint initiative with rechargeable battery manufacturer Uniross to place battery collection bins in its stores.
“Pick n Pay was the first company to sign up for the programme and the first retailer to collect a significant volume of batteries,” says Uniross marketing manager Michael Rogers.
“The programme has been very successful and is raising public awareness of the importance of recycling. This will be an ongoing initiative and we will be extending the battery and CFL light bulb recycling we currently offer in our stores, to other products such as plastic bags and printer cartridges,” says Bronwen Rohland, sustainability director at Pick 'n Pay.
Rogers says the batteries are sorted at Uniross’ Midrand premises, from where they are either sent to France for recycling or disposed of locally in a safe landfill.
“A volume of 30 000 batteries represents a significant contribution to environmental protection," Rogers adds. "This represents large amounts of harmful chemicals and metals, such as mercury and lithium, which have a damaging effect on the environment."
One AAA battery can pollute 500 litres of water and one cubic metre of land for 50 years. One rechargeable battery can replace up to 1 000 non-rechargeable batteries, making rechargeable batteries more environmentally friendly and more cost effective for the consumer.
South Africans throw away 50-million batteries annually.
In terms of climate change, if all of the disposable batteries in Europe were replaced with rechargeable batteries, it would equate to saving 5-billion kilometers driven by a motor vehicle.