battery recycling efforts
Have you recycled your batteries today?
An increasing number of private and
public buildings in China have set up battery
recycling boxes to collect
spent batteries in recent years.
However, compared to the more than 15
billion batteries produced in China every year, the
recycling effort is just a drop
in the bucket, said Wang Jingzhong, vice-chairman of the
board of the Chinese Association of Battery Industry.
Most spent batteries have been tossed
into landfills with other
garbage or littered the ground,
polluting the environment.
"Used batteries eventually break, and
then the mercury,
cadmium and other heavy metal
elements leak out and get into the
water table. That's our
drinking water we're contaminating," said Wang.
Heavy metal elements
accumulate in the
human body, causing damage to the nervous system, kidneys
and bones, and may cause cancer, medical experts said.
Since 1998, the Beijing Waste
Recycling Centre has collected
more than 100 tons of batteries, said centre officials.
However, yearly sales of batteries in
the capital city has reached 3,000 tons.
The centre set up a hotline (6356-0015)
in April 1998 to help recycling
In 1998, the centre collected only 7
tons of batteries. In 1999, the number surged to 60 tons.
And in the first half of this year, the centre collected
more than 50 tons of batteries.
recycling and environmental protection has improved,
leading to an increase in the amount of batteries collected.
Even with more batteries being
collected, they just take up space in storehouses as the
country has no processing method to treat them.
"We have done some research and tried to find a proper
way for used battery disposal. We visited Germany to learn
their techniques and methods," Wang said. "We will visit
Japan this September and will submit a proposal on battery
disposal to the government this October."
Although China has no battery disposal factories at
present, recycling efforts must
continue so as to provide enough raw material for future
disposal factories, argued Nie Yongfeng, a professor with
the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering of
There are plans for a future disposal factory which is
expected to process 100,000 used batteries a day, bringing
up to 20,000 yuan (US$2,409) in net profits, said Nie.
Thirty years ago, Chinese people had to return used
batteries to get new ones. China should reinstate the return
system, said Nie.
Germany launched the Batteries Ordinance in April 1998,
giving manufacturers total responsibility for their
products. Via a common return system, the consumer is
obligated to return all batteries regardless of type,
manufacturer or retailer.
"With the recycling of
batteries, various metal items and other materials, our
lives can be improved today while we restore and preserve
the environment for generations to come," said Wang.