Energizing Earth Month through battery recycling

Leaf grows from a Alkaline batteries in hands.

By Jon McQuaid, Vice-President Marketing, Communications & Innovation, Call2Recycle Canada

Leaf grows from a Alkaline batteries in hands.

April is celebrated as Earth Month, a powerful reminder for all of us of our shared responsibility to protect the environment through our actions. Responsible battery recycling is a prime example of the power of collective action in combating climate change, advancing the circular economy, and supporting Canada’s ambitious commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Transforming waste into resources

In our increasingly battery-powered society that uses cordless electronics, power tools, e-bikes and Electric Vehicles (EVs), convenience and mobility bring a hidden challenge: used batteries. The improper disposal of used batteries can present a significant environmental risk, as batteries contain chemical and metal components that can leach into soil and water and worsen Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Recycling these used batteries offers a powerful and responsible solution, showcasing the circular economy in action by minimizing waste and maximizing resource reuse.

By reclaiming valuable materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel from used batteries, we can significantly reduce the reliance on virgin resources and the environmental impact associated with mining for virgin materials. The recovered components can then be made into new products like stainless steel appliances, forming a ‘closed loop’ system. As Canada accelerates the adoption of EVs as part of its climate strategy, battery recycling becomes increasingly crucial by ensuring a sustainable supply of critical materials for EV batteries. Additionally, such recycling fosters innovation while aligning with international climate commitments such as the Paris Agreement, emphasizing the significant role that battery recycling plays in mitigating climate change.

Call2Recycle: leading the charge in Canada

As Canada’s leading battery recycling organization, Call2Recycle is at the forefront of this circular battery collection and recycling effort. Call2Recycle’s “Recycle Your Batteries, Canada!” program offers Canadians a convenient and responsible way to dispose of their used batteries and actively contribute to the fight against climate change.

A family dropping off used batteries into a collection bin.

More than 400 battery producers and retailers are involved in battery stewardship in Canada through Call2Recycle’s program, demonstrating the strong commitment from the industry to support this sustainability effort. By actively participating in battery recycling, these companies are taking proactive measures to reduce their own environmental footprints. 

Battery collection partners, including retailers, businesses, and municipalities, also play an essential role by offering convenient drop-off locations within their respective communities across Canada to help make safe and responsible recycling more accessible. These local initiatives create a sense of community environmental responsibility while contributing to a broader global impact.

For the past 26 years, Call2Recycle has brought together these industry members and battery collectors to form the bulk of Canada’s battery recycling ecosystem – a powerful network of sustainability champions driving environmental progress through battery recycling.

A long-term commitment to sustainability

At Call2Recycle, we believe that a robust circular economy is essential to protecting the environment. By reclaiming valuable battery materials, we not only reduce waste but also advance the principles of the circular economy, where resources are reused and kept in circulation for as long as possible.

Our program, combined with the dedicated efforts of our members and collectors, has already yielded impressive results. In 2023 alone, Call2Recycle collected almost 6 million kilograms of used batteries, diverting enough resources to create the equivalent of nearly 37 million new cell phone batteries and over 278 million new AA alkaline batteries.

As Earth Month is reaching its peak with the celebration of Earth Day on April 22, we are more than ever committed to addressing the long-term environmental challenges that lie ahead, including climate change. Our goal is to continue to increase battery recycling rates, increase volumes recycled, and reduce environmental impact by 2050 and beyond. We believe that responsibility and collective recycling are essential to achieving this goal, and we are proud to work with industry partners, collectors, and all Canadians to move this goal forward.