Uniross, the French-based manufacturer of rechargeable batteries, has launched an initiative for corporates to collect old batteries and contribute to environmental protection.
It is estimated that moer than 50-million batteries are consumed in South Africa annually, 90% of which are throwaway batteries which are used only once and then discarded into general landfill sites causing toxic damage to the environment.
The corporate programme was prompted by the success of Uniross’ partnership with Pick ‘n Pay. In the first six months of the programme, Pick ‘n Pay collected 30 000 used batteries from its shoppers and staff using collection bins.
The programme comprises three pillars of waste management, namely to reduce, reuse and recycle.
“The focus is to reduce waste by encouraging businesses and their staff to begin the conversion to rechargeable batteries. We want to promote a culture of reuse or recharging in the organisation and at end of the battery’s lifecycle to provide recycling bins for the safe and effective disposal of batteries,” says Michael Rogers, Uniross marketing manager.
“Once a corporate becomes a member of the Recharge for a Living Planet program they are provided with an attractive battery recycling collection bin. The bins can be placed in convenient common areas for both company and employee usage,” he says.
“The program would not be sustainable without the conversion of users to rechargeable batteries. In essence this is the starting point in terms of reducing waste.
“Corporates are provided with six rechargeable starter packs to encourage the initial conversion to rechargeable batteries,” says Rogers.
“As we also understand that the number of employees in many corporates number into the hundreds if not thousands of employees, we have extended the program by making further rechargeable starter packs available at significantly subsidised prices. Corporates could extend this offer to suppliers or partners. In this way they could influence those around them to follow the example.”
Rogers says the process of battery recycling is complicated and costly. The costs exceed the value obtained from the recycling process.
“The end of life product has no commercial value, and in fact the program must be funded externally in order to make it viable,” he says.
“Furthermore, there are currently no recycling facilities available in South Africa. So once the batteries are collected and sorted they are shipped overseas to an approved recycling plant. This adds to the cost of the program.”
The cost of joining the Recharge for a Living Planet programme is a once off fee of R1 500.00 which covers the cost of the recycling bin.