November 15 is America Recycles Day, and while local programs for handling paper, plastic, metals and glass have become close to ubiquitous, many harder to recycle products have few good solutions. One of the most challenging of these products is the alkaline battery. Designed for disposal, these products are potentially corrosive and banned from landfills in California and Europe. Recycling exists for them, but most of us still have that bag of batteries lying around somewhere. Other folks throw more than 2 billion of them away in the US every year—that’s 145 million pounds of harmful materials buried and burned annually. Now activists are taking action to solve this problem.
The solution is simple. Companies who make batteries ought to recycle them. Three of the four biggest battery makers agree, but Rayovac has refused to help the effort. Now protestors have picked this America Recycles Day as an opportunity to press the battery maker into stepping up their game, using social media and protests in half a dozen states to drive the point home: America Recycles, Why Not Rayovac?
And to make it clear they aren’t just meanies picking on the bargain battery slinger, the groups have also named electronics retailer Staples as a Corporate Recycling Leader for offering convenient electronics recycling in all of their stores and working with only certified recyclers who won’t be dumping the toxic products overseas. While Staples has shown global leadership, Rayovac has sent mixed messages internationally. When Texas Campaign for the Environment—the nonprofit coordinating the America Recycles Day actions—asked the company to step up and start recycling, their parent company told the group that customers should just throw their batteries in the trash. Just last year, however, Rayovac UK put out a press release urging consumers to recycle because trashing batteries is bad for the environment! This recycling doubletalk has outraged activists, and protests were held today in New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Texas, Ohio and Nebraska.
If you want to help their efforts, take a second to Tweet at Rayovac (@Rayovac) about your concerns, and tell them to #takeitbackrayovac. You can also “Like” their Facebook page and post a message telling them that you want them to step up like their competitors and support real recycling for American consumers. These actions take just a moment, but the momentum they build can push this company to change this silly policy and make life easier for recycling across the country.
We all have that bag or box of batteries; let’s make sure that next America Recycles Day we all have convenient, sustainable solutions for recycling them. Tell Rayovac to take ‘em back today!