Healthy CommunitiesYMCA Green Team

Y We Recycle Batteries

22 April 2015 - by YMCA Green Team

Batteries have illuminated world fairs and energized life-saving medical equipment. They have enabled everything from telecommunications and transportation to toys like Game Boys and Furbys. As readers of our last article may note, they will also fuel cars at the Cooper Koo Family YMCA. However, when disposed of improperly, batteries can leak large amounts of harmful heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury into groundwater.

The YMCA and its members care deeply about healthy ecosystems. That's why 13 YMCA facilities across the GTA have battery recycling bins, and why members and non-members of the Y alike have used them to upcycle over 5.5 tons of batteries since 2011. The Y is motivated by these numbers, and hopes to inspire even more positive change.

This particular battery disposal unit prominently stands at the YMCA Central Location. Independently, the receptacle collected nearly 880 lbs last year, and over a ton of used batteries since being installed. The display was designed by some local, creative Sheridan College students to educate, and it features all of the various elements of the battery available to be upcycled by companies such as Raw Materials Company Inc. (RMC). These raw materials include zinc, manganese and potassium, which can be recovered as micronutrients for crop production. By recovering steel and nickel from batteries, we can offset the demand for mining. Finally, the battery's packaging (paper and plastic) can be used to create electricity.

 As of 2013, Ontario was the leading province in battery recycling, upcycling approximately 17% of all the available single use batteries that came into the market. That number is slightly less for re-usable batteries. If you would like to help increase this number, you can take your batteries to any of the following YMCA facilities and find a disposal bin:

You can also find more disposal units by using sites such as Orange Drop, or the York Bindicator Project, which  features methods and locations for disposing of other hazardous wastes including:

  • Paint
  • Solvents
  • Pressurized cylinders
  • Fertilizers & pesticides
  • Antifreeze / coolant
  • Empty oil containers / oil filter

RMC can help answer questions such as how to prepare your batteries for disposalor how to become a public-approved collector of batteries.  You can also check your local municipality’s website for annual curbside collections for an easy, guilt free method of dispatching that cache of used double A’s in your kitchen’s miscellaneous drawer.

Thank you to everyone who has joined us in recycling their batteries at our YMCA sites so far--small efforts can go a long way to a greener future!


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