From cell phones and laptops to power tools and electric vehicles, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are becoming more and more prevalent in our lives. By 2025, the global lithium battery market is estimated to exceed $100 billion.
Although rechargeable lithium batteries are recyclable, care must be taken to do so correctly. Batteries of any kind should never be placed in curbside recycling containers as they have caused fires and in some cases destroyed recycling facilities. These batteries burn at extremely high temperatures, making them dangerous to people and property. Fortunately, there are several free and convenient ways to safely recycle them.
One way is to take them to places that participate in a targeted battery recycling program, like Home Depot, Lowes, and Staples. Nationwide, most retailers with battery drop-off stations receive their containers from Call2Recycle, a non-profit organization. New Jersey Counties recently partnered with Call2Recycle to produce a statewide battery awareness campaign for its residents. The Avoid the Spark NJ Campaign has its own website where residents can find convenient drop-off locations and learn more about proper battery safety and identification (see links at the bottom of this article).
Another option is to take them to a municipal electronics recycling site. Many cities accept rechargeable lithium batteries for free if connected to an electronic device or power tool, such as laptops, cell phones, and cordless drills. Many municipalities in Camden County often sponsor electronics recycling collection programs throughout the year. Contact your local public works department for your municipality’s e-waste recycling guidelines.
A third option is to take the batteries attached to electronic devices to a state-licensed e-waste recycling facility, such as Magnum Computer Recycling in Pennsauken.
(856) 333-0991 or Tab Shredding Inc. in Berlin (856) 768-4402. Tab Shredding charges a fee. It is advisable to make an appointment before dropping off items.
Finally, residents can bring all rechargeable batteries and single-use lithium batteries to one of the county’s household hazardous waste collection events. Please note that only loose batteries are accepted at these events – electronic devices are not accepted. See page 8 for the 2022 Fundraising Events Calendar.
Camden County Commissioner and Environmental Affairs Division Liaison Jefferey Nash stressed the importance of proper recycling. “With the proliferation of lithium batteries in our society, it is imperative that they are handled responsibly and safely. The consequences of not disposing of these items properly can create undue risks for our community and harm the health and well-being of our residents. The Board of Commissioners encourages all residents to use one of the many convenient recycling sites around the county for these and all rechargeable batteries.”
To learn more about the proper handling of all battery types and to find convenient drop-off locations near you, visit: call2recycle.org/avoid-the-spark-nj or CamdenCounty.com/LithiumBatteries.
County Takes Steps to Improve Convenience of Electronics Recycling Programs and Document Shredding Events
Prior to the pandemic, county electronics collection events routinely lost participation to more convenient municipal collection/drop-off programs and local businesses that accept e-waste. Many of these drop-off programs are open to the public year-round, providing a convenient opportunity to recycle e-waste. Magnum Computer Recycling in Pennsauken is one of the local companies offering free and convenient e-waste disposal services.
Along the same lines, the county is working to improve its shredding events by reducing the long lines and wait times caused by the hundreds of residents converging at one location. To achieve this, a more localized model similar to e-waste disposal was adopted.
One of the county’s approaches to making recycling and disposal programs more convenient for its residents was to use funding from the State Recycling Enhancement Act (REA) grant to establish a sponsorship program for municipalities that accepted to organize their own shredding events. In 2021, this enabled residents to destroy sensitive documents locally while saving time, fuel and protecting the environment. Municipalities that participated in this county-sponsored program received up to $1,000 to fund a local shredding event. Small towns that opted for joint shredding events with neighboring towns were also eligible for funding of up to $1,000.
A total of nine municipalities took advantage of this sponsorship program and generated 73,406 pounds of shredded paper for recycling. Building on this first-year success, the county will again offer sponsorship for shredding events to interested municipalities in 2022.
Along with the municipality’s efforts, the county plans to host a county-wide shredding event this year on June 4 at the Woodcrest PATCO High Speedline station in Cherry Hill from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Reduce your carbon footprint at home with home composting!
Although all organic matter breaks down over time, there are simple steps you can take at home to effectively speed up the process. The homemade compost you produce can then be used to feed your plants, garden and more around your property.
Buy or build a bin about 1 cubic yard (3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft) or use an open space in your yard without a bin. The size of the pan/area is important to get the right temperature to aid in the decomposition process. If the bin/pile is too small, it will not generate enough heat to support the microbial activity essential for decomposition. If the bin/area is too large, it will not allow enough air to reach the microbes in the center.
Mix the two-part brown material (leaves, straw, small twigs,
etc.) with one-component green material (grass clippings, vegetable scraps, etc.). This 2:1 ratio provides the best mix of carbon (leaves) and nitrogen (grass) to promote optimal decomposition. Materials such as kitchen scraps or twigs will decompose faster with increased surface area, so break them into smaller pieces when possible. Also, to avoid unpleasant odors and vermin, never put red meat or poultry in your composter. Check out the lists below for things you can add to your compost, as well as things you should avoid.
Items you CAN compost
NITROGEN (GREEN, WET)
• Grass clippings • Weeds
• Leftover fruit
• Coffee grounds and filters • Tea bags
CARBON (DRY, BROWN)
• Dead leaves • Hay or straw • Corn stalks
• Dried and brown grass clippings • Newspaper*
• Cardboard soiled with food*
*Grate and add in small amounts
Items you should not compost at home
• Grease or oil
• Dead animals
• Sick plants
• Fat food
• Any meat or bones
• Human and/or domestic animal waste • Treated wood
• Plants treated with pesticides • Weeds with seeds
Water your bin/pile as needed to maintain a moisture level similar to that of a wrung out sponge.
Compost needs air to decompose. Turning the compost makes it easier to break down the materials and helps prevent potential odors.
When the compost is complete, it should look and smell like rich soil. This means it is ready to use for your garden, flower beds, potted plants and lawn.