Ministry: Better battery recycling would help environment and lower prices
Now the holiday season is over, the large number of used batteries should be discarded at dedicated collection boxes, the Ministry of the Environment says. Batteries should not be thrown away with general waste, at any time.
Environment Minister Madis Kallas (Reform) said: "Batteries and accumulators contain both valuable and hazardous substances, which when disposed with municipal waste, pose a great threat to the natural environment and to the public."
These substances include cobalt, lead, lithium and nickel, which are also critical and hard-to-obtain elements, the minister added via a press release, adding to the need for their separate disposal and recycling.
Estonians still lag behind the European average when it comes to used battery disposal, the ministry said, where around two-thirds of used batteries end up in the proper collection receptacles, compared with 30 percent in Estonia.
Roughly the same volume is still being discarded in the general waste disposal in Estonia, while a recent Tallinn University study revealed that people who do not collect batteries underestimate the hazards of even small volumes of wrongly disposed of batteries.
Kaupo Heinma, Deputy Secretary General at the environment ministry, said: "In fact, any battery treated as household waste is hazardous. Every battery delivered to the collection box, on the other hand, helps to preserve nature and saves on the production costs of new batteries."
By discarding of batteries responsibly, Heinma went on: "We are doing our part to slow down climate change. The use of recycled material allows for a reduction of the CO2 footprint of product manufacturing, the ethical sourcing of raw materials and security of supply."
Collection boxes can be found at supermarkets and grocery stores, filling stations, electronic stores and at other locations, which can be found here, along with disposal points for other categories of refuse.
Retailers who sell batteries are legally obliged to take back any used batteries which customers bring to them.
The current economic situation has also led to increased input costs in battery production, leading to a rise in prices at a time of soaring inflation in general.
These price rises could be softened by the proper recycling of batteries, the ministry says.
At the same time, while soaring demand will lead to a ten-fold rise in production by 2030 a decade later, the volume of waste from batteries and accumulators will have risen 700-fold, the ministry says, leading to a further threat to the environment.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte