Battery recycling sparks interest

electronics stores are joining a campaign to recycle rechargeable batteries.

far two stores, BrandSource Home Gallery and Funky Tang’s, have placed bins in
their shops so that customers can drop off toxic, rechargeable batteries that
would otherwise end up in the landfill.

Phipps, who is spearheading the campaign, said he hopes other stores will come
on board and that sponsors can be found to ensure the batteries will be
transported to the US.

just trying to jump-start the programme here and get the batteries to drop-off
locations in the States,” he said.

was prompted to begin the campaign when he realised that rechargeable batteries
he had been keeping until he found somewhere to drop them off for recycling had
nowhere to go. “I’d been holding on to my batteries and asking around, assuming
there was a place to deposit them. Once I determined about a year ago that
there was no place, I decided that as soon as I had more time on my hands, I
would try to facilitate the removal of these batteries to prevent them from
going into Cayman’s landfills. They’re toxic and are not currently being
properly disposed of.

are resources available off Island that will recycle the batteries. By doing
this, it makes electrical products cheaper and will have less of an impact on
the environment,” said Mr. Phipps.

has approached several local businesses in recent weeks and said he received
mostly positive feedback.

lot of people did not even know the batteries could be recycled. I was
surprised by that,” he said.

stores are only accepting rechargeable batteries used in smaller items, like
laptops, cameras, power tools, and cell phones, not car batteries and
non-rechargeable alkaline batteries.

hoping that the programme can be expanded to other local businesses. It will
benefit both the environment and the businesses. When people walk in to recycle
the batteries, it will bring walk-in customers to those businesses.

truly do think it is a win-win situation,” he said. “It protects the
environment and fosters social responsibility within business operations. There
are a lot of people making money by bringing a lot of things onto the Island,
and there’s a lot of waste associated with these goods… I would like to see
business owners and pillars of the community address the waste problem and not
just leave it up to the government.”

Phipps is supplying the first batch of bins to stores, but he said that going
forward he hopes stores will absorb the moderate costs of the supplies.

bins he supplied contain tape to wrap and secure the batteries and instructions
on the safe handling and storage of the items.

Leacock-Broderick, director of marketing and administration at Brandsource Home
Gallery, said the store’s management and staff welcomed the chance to take part
in the battery collection.

the use of rechargeable batteries should be encouraged as an energy-saving
measure due to their longer life,” she said, explaining that it generally
requires 50 times more energy to produce a battery than the energy it stores.
Further, she said, “80 per cent of them contain nickel cadmium, which is a
known human carcinogen. 

of the small size of general purpose batteries … I don’t think most people
are conscious of disposal concerns because they are generally not aware of the
hazardous nature of these materials, even in small quantities. As retailers of
these batteries and the goods they are used in, we do recognise our
responsibility to assist in the safe disposal of these batteries and,
hopefully, the recycling of the materials,” she said.

Leacock-Broderick added: “I applaud Lyle’s effort and I am grateful to him for
bringing this to our attention and to the public’s attention. Personally, I am
mindful of the power of small changes and encourage consumers to be responsible
and do their part. It requires very little effort and at most, very slight
inconvenience, but these small changes collectively will have a huge impact on
the health of our environment and, ultimately, on our own health and

Watler, owner of Funky Tang’s, said he decided to support the programme and allow
his store to be a drop-off point for recyclable rechargeable batteries because
he wants people to become more aware of the importance of recycling the

are not really aware in Cayman… They just throw the batteries away. The more
education people have about recycling, the more aware they will be,” he said.

is a good programme. It’ll help keep the landfill clear of these types of
batteries,” Mr. Watler added.

local effort is similar to the Call2Recycle programme in the US and Canada,
which has diverted more than 60 million pounds of rechargeable batteries from
landfills and established a network of 30,000 recycling drop-off locations
since it was set up in 1994.

Phipps said batteries that are transported to the US can be dropped off at any
of the locations listed on the website, which also
contains more information about the disposal and handling of rechargeable

is estimated that the average person uses six wireless products in their day-to-day
lives, and cell phones are often replaced (or upgraded) every 18 to 24 months,
meaning the rechargeable batteries end up in landfills unless they are

cadmium in nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries is a metal that is toxic to
humans when inhaled or ingested, while lithium batteries, mainly used in
computers and cameras, are reactive with water and can catch fire.

Anyone with the following types of batteries can drop
them off at the two stores: Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride
(Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), Nickel Zinc (Ni-Zn), and Small Sealed Lead


Lyle Phipps, left, and Funky Tang’s Mark Watler set up one of the first recycling boxes for rechargeable batteries as part of a new campaign.
Photo: Norma Connolly