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Batteries now recycled at several locations

New District of Squamish program aims to divert toxic waste from landfill

Rather than tossing batteries from remote controls, clocks and kids toys into the trash, Squamish residents can now recycle them at several locations around town.

Starting Thursday Jan. 7, local grocery stores and certain municipal buildings will carry containers for locals to dispose of toxic batteries.

The household battery recycling program is a collaborative effort between the District of Squamish and the Squamish Climate Action Network (CAN), with the municipality providing funding and the non-profit organization providing the volunteer manpower to run the program.

"We were encouraged by so many members of the community coming to us saying they felt the battery recycling program was badly needed and they were keeping their batteries at home and [asking] what could they do. They were feeling desperate," said Ana Santos, a Squamish Climate Action Network (CAN) co-ordinator.

Batteries contain toxic and hazardous materials like mercury, cadmium, nickel and lead, which seep into landfill soil and leach into water systems, creating an environmental and health hazard.

"The main thing is to keep these toxic materials away from our landfills, they end up leaching into the waters. So at the end of the day it's a health issue," said Santos.

Sealed cell alkaline batteries as well as batteries that contain lithium, mercury or nickel cadmium can be dropped into specially marked plastic containers at Nesters Market, Save On Foods, Extra Foods, the Adventure Centre and Municipal Hall.

Squamish CAN volunteers will collect the batteries and store them in a district facility until they are ready to transport to Nu-Life Industries Inc., an Aldergrove-based company. Nu-Life breaks apart the batteries, separates the materials and recycles them for re-use.

"Really almost everything batteries contain can be re-used," Santos said.

Santos said she couldn't estimate how many batteries will be collected initially, but guesses the service will be well used.

"In some places they [recycle] a pallet load in a week, in other places they go through a pallet load a month, so we'll see."

Santos expressed her gratitude towards the store managers who agreed to have recycling containers on their premises.

"Really they're not getting anything out of this other than providing this service. They were all very welcoming of it," she said.

Acting mayor Rob Kirkham last week commended the hard work of Squamish CAN members and expressed his appreciation for having a battery recycling location in Squamish.

"It will be great to have some place to recycle batteries."