From cell phones to laptops, power tools, and electric vehicles, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly prevalent in our lives. By 2025, it’s estimated that the global lithium battery market will surpass $100 billion.
While rechargeable lithium batteries are recyclable, care must be taken to do so properly. Batteries of any kind should never be placed in curbside recycling containers, as they have led to fires breaking out and, in some cases, destroying recycling facilities. These batteries burn at extremely high temperatures, making them dangerous to people and property. Fortunately, there are several free and convenient ways to recycle them safely.
One way is to bring them to locations that participate in a targeted battery recycling program, like Home Depot, Lowes, and Staples. Countrywide, most retailers with battery drop-off stations receive their containers from Call2Recycle, a nonprofit organization. New Jersey counties recently teamed up with Call2Recycle to produce a statewide battery awareness campaign geared towards its 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 bring them to a municipal electronics recycling location. Many towns accept rechargeable lithium batteries free of charge if they are attached to an electronic device or power tool, like laptops, cell phones, and cordless drills. Numerous Camden County municipalities often sponsor year-round electronics recycling collection programs. Contact your local public works department to find out your municipality’s electronic waste recycling guidelines.
A third option is to bring batteries attached to electronic devices to a state-permitted electronic waste recycling facility, such as Magnum Computer Recycling in Pennsauken
(856) 333-0991 or Tab Shredding Inc. in Berlin (856) 768-4402. Tab Shredding does charge a fee. It is advised to schedule appointments before dropping items off.
Lastly, residents can bring all rechargeable batteries and single-use lithium batteries to any of the county’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection events. Please note that only loose batteries are accepted at these events- electronic devices are not accepted. See page 8 for the 2022 collection events schedule.
Camden County Commissioner and liaison to the Division of Environmental Affairs, Jefferey Nash, expressed the importance of proper recycling. “With the proliferation of lithium batteries in our society, it is imperative they are handled responsibly and safely. The consequences of not disposing of these items in the proper way can create undue risks to our community and undermine the health and welfare of our residents. The Board of Commissioners encourages all residents to use one of the many convenient in-county recycling locations for these and all rechargeable batteries.”
To learn more about proper handling of all types of batteries, and to find convenient drop-off locations near you, visit: call2recycle.org/avoid-the-spark-nj or CamdenCounty.com/LithiumBatteries.
County Moves to Improve Convenience for Electronics Recycling Programs and for Document Shredding Events
Prior to the pandemic, County electronics collection events steadily lost participation to more convenient municipal collection / drop-off programs and local businesses that accept electronic waste. Many of these drop-off programs are open to the public year-round, providing a convenient opportunity to recycle electronic waste. Among local businesses to offer free and convenient electronic disposal services is Magnum Computer Recycling in Pennsauken.
In a similar vein, the County strives to improve its shredding events by reducing the long lines and wait times caused by the hundreds of residents converging on a single location. To accomplish this, a more localized model similar to electronic waste disposal was adopted.
One of the County’s approaches to creating more convenient recycling and disposal programs for its residents was utilizing State Recycling Enhancement Act (REA) grant funding to establish a sponsorship program for municipalities that agreed to hold their own shredding events. In 2021, this enabled residents to shred sensitive documents locally while saving time, fuel, and protecting the environment. Municipalities who participated in this county-sponsored program received up to $1,000 to fund a local shredding event. Smaller towns that opted for joint shredding events with neighboring towns were each eligible for up to $1,000 in funding as well.
In total, nine municipalities took advantage of this sponsorship program and generated 73,406 pounds of shredded paper for recycling. Building on this first-year success, the County will once more offer sponsorship for shredding events to interested municipalities in 2022.
In tandem with municipality efforts, the County plans to hold a single countywide shredding event this year on June 4th at the Woodcrest PATCO High Speedline station in Cherry Hill from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home with Backyard Composting!
While all organic matter breaks down in time, there are easy steps you can take at home to effectively speed up the process. The homemade compost you produce can then be used to nurture your plants, garden, and more around your property.
Purchase or construct a bin approximately 1 cubic yard in size (3’x3’x3’) or use an open area in your yard without a bin. The size of the bin/area is important for obtaining the proper temperature to aid in the decomposition process. If the bin/pile is too small, it will not generate enough heat to promote the microbial activity essential for decomposition. If the bin/area is too large, it will not allow enough air to reach the microbes in the center.
Mix two-parts brown material (leaves, straw, small twigs,
etc.) with one-part green material (grass clippings, vegetable scraps, etc.). This 2:1 ratio provides the best mix of carbon (leaves) with nitrogen (grass) to promote optimal decomposition. Materials such as kitchen scraps or twigs will decompose quicker with increased surface area, so break them into smaller pieces when possible. Also, to avoid unpleasant odors and vermin, never put red meat or poultry into your compost bin/pile. See the lists below for items you can add to your compost, as well as items you should avoid.
Items You CAN Compost
NITROGEN (GREEN, WET)
• Grass clippings • Weeds
• Fruit scraps
• Coffee grounds & filters • Tea bags
CARBON (DRY, BROWN)
• Dead leaves • Hay or straw • Cornstalks
• Dried, brown grass clippings • Newspaper*
• Food-soiled cardboard*
*Shred and add in small quantities
Items You SHOULD NOT Compost at Home
• Grease or oil
• Dead animals
• Diseased plants
• Fatty foods
• Any meat or bones
• Human and/or pet waste • Treated wood
• Pesticide-treated plants • Weeds with seeds
Water your bin/pile as needed to maintain a level of moisture like that of a wrung-out sponge.
Compost needs air to decompose. Turning the compost assists the breakdown of materials and helps to prevent any potential odors.
When the compost is finished, it should look and smell like rich soil. This means it’s ready to use for your garden, flowerbeds, potted plants, and lawn.
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