From cell phones to laptops and power tools to electric vehicles, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are becoming more and more common in our lives. It is estimated that the global lithium battery market will surpass US$100 billion by 2025.
Rechargeable lithium batteries are recyclable, but care must be taken to ensure this is done properly. Batteries of any type should never be placed in roadside recycling bins as they have resulted in fires and in some cases the destruction of recycling facilities. These batteries burn at extremely high temperatures, making them dangerous to people and property. Luckily, there are several free and convenient ways to safely recycle them.
One option 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 get their bins from Call2Recycle, a non-profit organization. New Jersey counties recently partnered with Call2Recycle to conduct a statewide battery awareness campaign targeting their 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 center. Many cities accept rechargeable lithium batteries for free when connected to an electronic device or power tool such as laptops, cell phones, and cordless drills. Many communities in Camden County often sponsor year-round electronic recycling collection programs. Contact your local building authority to find out your community’s e-waste recycling guidelines.
A third option is to take batteries attached to electronic devices to a state-approved 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 is chargeable. It is recommended to make appointments before dropping off items.
Finally, residents may bring all rechargeable batteries and disposable lithium batteries to all county hazardous waste collection events. Please note that only loose batteries will be accepted at these events – electronic devices will not be accepted. See page 8 for the schedule of 2022 collection events.
Camden County Commissioner and Environmental Affairs 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 improper disposal of these items can pose undue risks to our community and undermine the health and well-being of our residents. The Board of Commissioners encourages all residents to use one of the many convenient recycling points in the county for these and all rechargeable batteries.”
Prior to the pandemic, county electronics collection events steadily lost participation in more practical community collection/drop-off programs and local businesses that accept e-waste. Many of these drop-off programs are open to the public year-round and provide a convenient way to recycle e-waste. Magnum Computer Recycling in Pennsauken is one of the local businesses offering free and convenient electronic disposal services.
Similarly, the county is striving to improve its shredder events by reducing the long lines and waits caused by the hundreds of residents converging at a single location. To achieve this, a more localized model similar to e-waste disposal was introduced.
One of the county’s approaches to creating more convenient recycling and disposal programs for its residents was to use grants from the State Recycling Enhancement Act (REA) to establish a sponsorship program for communities that agreed to hold their own shredding events. In 2021, this allowed residents to shred sensitive documents on-site, saving time, fuel and the environment. Communities that participated in this county-sponsored program received up to $1,000 to fund a local shredding event. Smaller cities that chose to host joint shredding events with neighboring cities were also eligible for a grant of up to $1,000.
A total of nine municipalities used this grant program and generated 73,406 pounds of shredded paper for recycling. Building on this success in the first year, the district will again offer sponsorship for shredder events to interested municipalities in 2022.
Along with community efforts, the county plans to hold a single statewide shredder event this year on June 4 from 9 am to 2 pm at the Woodcrest PATCO High Speedline station in Cherry Hill
While all organic matter breaks down over time, there are simple steps you can take at home that will effectively speed up the process. The homemade compost you produce can then be used to care for your plants, garden and more around your property.
Purchase or construct a trash can about 1 cubic yard (3’x3’x3′) in size, or use an open area in your yard without a trash can. The size of the container/area is important to get the right temperature to support the decomposition process. If the container/stack is too small, it will not generate enough heat to support the microbial activity essential for decomposition. If the container/area is too large, not enough air can reach the microbes in the center.
Mix two parts of brown material (leaves, straw, small twigs,
etc.) with integral green material (grass clippings, vegetable waste, etc.). This 2:1 ratio provides the best mix of carbon (leaves) and nitrogen (grass) to promote optimal decomposition. Materials like kitchen scraps or twigs decompose faster with larger surface area, so break them into smaller pieces if possible. To avoid unpleasant odors and bugs, never put red meat or poultry in your compost bin/pile. The lists below provide items to add to your compost as well as items to avoid.
Items you CAN compost
NITROGEN (GREEN, WET)
• Grass clippings • Weeds
• leftover fruit
• Coffee grounds & filters • Tea bags
COAL (DRY, BROWN)
• Dead leaves • Hay or straw • Corn stalks
• Dried, brown grass clippings • Newspaper*
• Food-contaminated cardboard*
*Crush and add in small amounts
Items you should NOT compost at home
• Fat or oil
• Dead animals
• Diseased plants
• Greasy food
• Meat or bones
• Human and/or pet waste. • Treated wood
• Pesticide treated plants • Seed weeds
Water your bin/pile as needed to maintain a moisture level like a wrung out sponge.
Compost needs air to decompose. Turning the compost supports the breakdown of materials and helps to avoid possible odors.
When the compost is ready, it should look and smell like rich soil. That means it’s ready to use in your garden, flower beds, potted plants and lawn.