A campaign to promote the recycling of used batteries was launched last Friday in Guangdong Province.
About 1,000 special collection bins will be placed across Guangzhou, the province's capital, said Xie Shichao, deputy director of the department of environment and resource conservation of the Guangdong Provincial Economic and Trade Commission. They'll be located in residential areas, campuses, shopping malls, parks, bus and train stations.
"We've at least one designated person for every spot who'll call us to empty the boxes when they're full," said Xie.
The initiative will help ensure the proper disposal of at least 30,000 tons of used batteries each year, according to a source at the commission.
Guangdong Jianhang Battery Group, which is based in Qingyuan in the province, will send the collected batteries to recycling unit in Hong Kong and South Korea.
"We have a recycling facility under construction, but it's not expected to be complete until the end of next year," said Zhao Mingyuan, an executive of the group. "The factory will be able to deal with more than 80 percent of the waste batteries in Guangdong," he said.
The initiative has been launched as part of Guangdong Energy Saving Week which got underway on Friday. Residents have praised the plan.
"As there was no collection system in public places previously, I had to pile the used batteries in my house," said Huang Chunlan, a woman in her 30s. "Now I can take them easily to a box near my home."
Research suggests that harmful substances contained in a single button cell battery can pollute 600 cubic meters of water and a deteriorated D-sized battery may render 1 square kilometer of soil unusable. The substances leaked from discarded batteries on land contaminate not only the soil but can get inoto underground water supplies as well.
Each year more than 70 billion button cell batteries are used in China with a total weight exceeding 1.4 million tons. However, less than 2 percent of them are recycled. The rest are typically discarded along with other rubbish.
If all the estimated 200,000 tons of batteries disposed of annually in Guangdong were recycled 100,000 tons of lead, 23,000 tons of zinc and 1,000 tons of nickel could be retrieved. These materials would have a total value of 1.5 billion yuan (US$180 million), said Chen Hongyu, dean of the environment department at South China Normal University.
Battery producers and consumers need to share responsibility for retrieving and recycling waste batteries, he said.
A range of other initiatives and events are planned to promote environmental protection and recycling as part of Guangdong Energy Saving Week.
(China Daily June 12, 2006)