- Grade 7
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Did you know that 3 billion batteries are thrown away each year by Americans? Batteries have tons of chemicals in them and if thrown in the trash can cause so many problems. From leakage to explosions we don't know the worst that can happen. Dead batteries shouldn’t to be thrown in the trash, they need to be recycled. Batteries can be turned into new products like electronics, car parts, new batteries and many more. Our group chose to do this project on batteries because we knew about the big impact it had on the environment. If we want to have a better future, recycling batteries would be one of the many steps. I believe that all households should recycle batteries and throwing batteries in the trash should be a thing of the past.
To begin with, batteries can release corrosive liquid and metal, like lithium that can get into our water source. The average smartphone battery can pollute more than 600 thousand litres of water. That's about 1,986 bathtubs full of toxic water. Batteries also contribute to climate change. When mining for the materials for batteries, the big machinery used can cause a lot of pollution. And it takes about 500,000 gallons of water per tonne of lithium. Why waste water and natural resources when you can recycle batteries? Another example would be in 2016 oodles of dead fish washed up on the shore of the Liqi River. A nearby lithium mining plant had leaked. Protesters threw the dead fish onto streets; mad because the leak had wreaked their ecosystem. In some places like Salar de Atacama, Lithium mining activities consumed up to 65% of the region’s water. If we recycled lithium in batteries all these issues could have been avoided.
It is super easy to recycle batteries, many places like hardware stores will take them for free. If the UK alone recycled 45% of their batteries over 12,000 tonnes of C02 emissions could be avoided. There are also battery drives. Our group did a battery drive and collected around 1,880 batteries. We saved all those batteries from the landfill and recycled them. And that's just from our school. There is a website called Call2Recycle where it shows you where you can recycle batteries. You just enter your postal code and it shows you the nearest battery recycling spot. It's so easy to recycle batteries why wouldn't you?
Depending on what type of battery, usually more than 98% of it’s materials can be recycled. Chemicals like manganese, lead, and lithium are used to make new batteries. Metals including brass and steel can be turned in products like nails, new batteries, and even instruments. Last but not least, plastic is turned into pellets and made into products such as furniture, clothing, containers and more.
Some people may say “It’s okay if I throw one battery in the trash”. What if everybody did that? There would be more than 7 billion batteries in the landfill polluting our earth. You may think one battery is okay but that one battery can destroy habitats, ecosystems and homes.
Our team, Battery Buds, had a battery drive at Lynn Valley Elementary to help create awareness around proper battery recycling. We collected approximately 2000 batteries in one week. Our team took them to be our local recycling depot so that they could be broken down properly and not end up in our landfill. We will share our video with the younger students in the school so that we can spread our message through our community. We hope that soon everyone makes small changes, such as buying rechargeable batteries and ensuring to properly recycle dead batteries.
In conclusion, I believe that throwing batteries in the trash should be a thing of the past. I believe this because recycling batteries will conserve natural resources, reuse materials to make new products and get rid of the risk of leaking. Please remember this article the next time you are about to throw a battery in the trash. Consider the impacts a single battery can have on the environment.