Batteries – enemies of the environment

Spent batteries and accumulators mixed with municipal waste in landfills across the country pose a serious threat to human health and the environment due to toxic acids and heavy metals they contain. Inadequate treated waste batteries and accumulator are poisoning us with lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium, since these dangerous substances leak into soil and groundwater. Just for illustration – a cadmium rechargeable cell phone battery pollutes 600,000 liters of water. That would mean that 3 such batteries can contaminate an Olympic pool. And did you know that only 1 gram of mercury is enough to contaminate 400 liters of water? Therefore they should not be disposed together with the other municipal waste but handled by strictly established procedure.

Starting from 29.10.2010, in accordance with EU Directive 2006/66/EC, in the Republic of Macedonia is in force a law on management of waste batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, according to which ” It is prohibited to leave or teach waste batteries and accumulators in areas designated for collection and selection of municipal household waste or other waste”. The law applies to batteries (all batteries, battery packs, batteries in the form of a button, car batteries, industrial batteries) or accumilators, regardless of their shape, volume, weight, material that is made or intended for use.

The situation in Macedonia
Macedonia annually collects over 300 tonnes of waste batteries and accumulators.
Field surveys made by members of the “4x4x4 Balkan Bridges”, showed that the average household in Macedonia spend from 0.3 to 0.7 pounds of batteries per year, small and medium-sized companies from 0.6 to 0.9, and the media to 0 , 5 kg. At the end of 2009 in Macedonia had more than 30 million batteries and over 3.5 tons of car batteries that are improperly stored and pollute the environment.
Previously mentioned law set minimum rates of collection of portable waste batteries and accumulators – by the end of 2016, to collect a minimum of 25% by weight of batteries and accumulators that are placed on the market in the Republic of Macedonia and a minimum of 45 % by the end of 2020.

What can we do?

The participation of end users in reducing the negative impact of batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators on the environment have paramount importance:

–         Old car battery take it to traders who are permitted to purchase and handling of waste batteries and get a discount on the price of a new battery.

–         Do not ever throw small batteries in the same place with municipal waste and make them easy way to the landfill also giving them a direct opportunity for contamination of soil and water.

–         Make sure that your batteries are not affecting the environment with harmful mercury so that you choose batteries with silver oxide or mercury-free lithium-manganese batteries. Choosing products without mercury may reduce the annual use of mercury to 470 kg.

–         Use rechargeable batteries and save energy (eg multipurpose batteries are ideal environmental alternative to conventional alkaline batteries – with their use dramatically is reduced the number of discarded alkaline batteries).

It is important to note that scientists are involved in this fight with dangerous substances and work intensively on reducing the negative impact of batteries on the environment and people. One of their innovations is the so-called Bio-battery that generate electricity using enzymes break carbohydrates in the form of glucose. These batteries apply the innate ability of organisms to get energy from nutrients, which, instead of being used for life activities, are used to create electricity.

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