Used batteries can contaminate water supply

As part of a continued effort to encourage recycling and sustainable practices at CLU, students have access to a used-battery receptacle in the temporary Student Affairs location, across from the Swenson Center on the south side of campus.

Used dry cell batteries, such as AA and AAA batteries, are considered hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency when thrown in the garbage.

The EPA reports that over time, the batteries degrade and seep acid and heavy metals into the earth. This can lead to contamination of groundwater. Toxins can also be released into the atmosphere if the waste is burnt in municipal waste combustors.

“I had a few batteries, and I was wondering what to do with them. I was just keeping them around. I didn’t even know there was a place to recycle them on campus,” said junior Katie Frank.

When told of the used-battery receptacle, Frank voiced displeasure at the long trek to the distant building.

She said such a trip would be more appealing if she had more batteries saved up.

“I only use batteries for my old Gameboy and my graphing calculator,” said sophomore Josh Solberg.

In his four semesters at CLU, Solberg has only gone through three batteries.

“Roommates go through batteries on my remote all time. I haven’t purchased a battery myself in years,” said senior Richard Coan.

Frank and Solberg felt that although it is good to know that they have the option to recycle batteries on campus, it isn’t a very high priority for them given the limited number of batteries they use.

Solberg said most of the technology he uses is powered by more specialized batteries with much longer lifespans than a normal AA battery.

“I didn’t even know that there was a battery recycling thing in here,” junior ASCLU-G senator Joette Carini said, referring to the receptacle that sat a few feet away.

“I’d never heard about any effort to recycle batteries on campus,” said sophomore ASCLU-G senator Maxi Jones, ambassador to Sodexo in charge of food service and sustainability. “As far as Senate goes, we’re dealing with Sodexo, the Centrum recycling bins, trying to get wraparounds for the recycling bins, just to make them more obvious, more seen, draw attention to them. Students are more prone to recycle when they see this vibrant, exciting image on the recycle bin.”

As part of Jones’ efforts, new cardboard recycling bins have been placed in the Centrum and the Caf.

According to Jones, the new receptacles are working, as they’ve been filled multiple times in the first two weeks since they’ve been installed.

“We’re just trying to get students to recycle more, and educate them about what can be recycled, because I feel that’s more the problem. If you know what you can recycle, why not just throw it in? It’s not like we’re that lazy,” said Jones.

For her next project, Jones wants to increase recycling options available to students living on campus in the residence halls.


Jonathon Christopher
Staff Writer
Published March 13, 2013