Batteries: Being a Good Steward


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

 

Technology is all around us. We are all glued to our phones most of the day checking on our friends or playing the latest time wasting game that gets us through the day. Most electronics we touch during the day, phone or computer, include batteries. These batteries power our devices and allow us the benefits of getting any amount of information literally at our fingertips. But one part of our daily solutions may deserve more attention than they actually get: batteries.

Lithium-Ion batteries have made their way into headlines for the wrong reasons in the last few years. It’s widely speculated that they are the culprit behind a UPS plane crash in Dubai a few years ago. It was even mentioned as a possible factor in 2014 that the missing Malaysian flight 370 was carrying li-ion batteries in its cargo hold. We are starting to see lithium batteries become more of an important piece of the puzzle rather than an afterthought.

In April, 2016, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued new standards and regulations regarding the shipment of lithium-ion cells and batteries. These standards affect how many companies, including BlueStar, must ship and handle these batteries, due to their potentially hazardous nature. All batteries shipped via air may only be charged to 30 percent or less, and batteries cannot be able to pre-charged prior to shipping via air. The accepted quantity of loose batteries that can be packed together has been reduced to eight cells or two batteries per box. If bulk shipping of lithium-ion batteries via air is required (any quantity exceeding the two battery limit per box), those packages will be subjected to ship as Class 9 Dangerous Goods and will require additional labeling and compliance paperwork, as well as additional shipping fees.

These batteries provide fuel for many of the solutions we use on a daily basis, from laptops to scanners to cameras and more. They are important to our day-to-day interactions with technology, but they are also hazardous, not just in shipping, but after their lifespans have ended.

As important as these batteries are while in use, they are equally as important when they are considered “dead”. We all know that recycling plastic, paper, and other recyclable items are important to helping preserve the environment. But pieces of technology are just as important to recycle. Batteries are not excluded. Most batteries contain fluid or acid that is extremely harmful to humans and the environment. Although these batteries are considered “dead”, they still contain small amounts of these toxic substances. Think of everything that requires a battery that you own. Now multiply that by the amount of people in this world that own battery powered technology. That’s a huge number.

Recycling these items are sometimes as easy as putting them in a bag and sending them off in a prepaid envelope to a recycling facility. Some battery and electronic manufacturers include these bags with a particular device in order to help recycle these batteries and keep them out of landfills. Members of the channel can help shoulder the responsibility of properly disposing of these batteries and other forms of recyclable technologies by implementing recycling programs for their operations and the operations of their customers. These initiatives can help boost a sense of community and service within the Channel, fostering connections with one another as we agree to examine the challenges we’re facing and tackle them together. So the next time you go to throw away an old dead battery, think of the easy way you can properly dispose of that battery and not have to worry about it hitting the local landfill and causing more harm than good.

Co-Contributor: Matt Gadd

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