Sustainability

Batteries: The unsung recycling hero

By  John Evankovich August 30, 2012

Recycle Car Batteries, Walmart

Batteries often get a bad rap—and, quite honestly, for good reason. As most people know, they’re full of chemicals that can be toxic to the environment. But here’s something that might surprise you:  Car batteries are actually the most recycled consumer product in America, even more than aluminum cans.  And Sam’s Club is working to keep it that way.

Eight years ago, our team saw an opportunity with batteries to reduce our company’s environmental footprint while keeping costs low for members. Today, Sam’s Club – along with Walmart – has one of the largest closed-loop battery recycling programs in the country.

Batteries have three major components:  polypropylene (plastic), lead, and acid. These aren’t the kind of materials any of us want to be casually tossed into our municipal waste systems. So, working with two major supplier partners – Johnson Controls on the west coast and East Penn Manufacturing on the east coast – we’ve developed a process to divert batteries from the waste stream and into a recycling program.

Here’s how it works:  When a member buys a battery from us, they nearly always agree to give us their old battery as part of the purchase agreement. When our suppliers replenish our inventory, they – in accordance with best business practices and EPA standards – take away the used batteries and deliver them to a smelter, where they are broken down into their three major components: The lead is melted down into ingots that can then be used to create casings in new batteries; the poly is washed, cleaned, and then sold; and the acid is either neutralized and sold for other products or put right back into a new battery.

This process is called a closed-loop system because it can be repeated indefinitely without harmful chemicals entering the waste stream. Suppliers use the raw materials from the recycling process to produce new batteries.

Overall, this program benefits everyone involved. It works for Sam’s Club from a cost perspective, it works for our members, and it works for the environment.

We encourage anyone to drop off used batteries – no matter the size – at any of our centers. By doing so, you can help keep batteries as America’s most recycled product.

Read more from John Evankovich

Be the first to comment on this article

Related Posts

Get the Facts on Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

By Charles Zimmerman, VP International Design and Construction, Walmart

Passion Fruit, Partnerships and a New Approach to Agriculture

By David Cheesewright, Walmart and Torgeir Kvidal, Yara

How Walmart’s SPARK Keeps Your Food Fresh

By Frank Yiannas, Vice President, Food Safety – Walmart

Sustainable Farming with True Affordability in Mind

By Tim Richter, Member, The Triple Bottom Line

Our Food Pledge to YOU

By Doug McMillon, President & CEO, Walmart

Most Popular

Lower Fees, Less Hassle with Walmart Direct2Cash

By John Metz, Sr. Director, Walmart Services

How BCA is Steering Bikes Back to the U.S.

By Craig Mikita, Buyer – Bicycles and Ride-On Toys, Walmart

Big Small Business Dreams? Enter the American Small Business Championship

By Susan Koehler, Sr. Manager, The Walmart Foundation – Sam’s Club Giving Program

@WalmartGreen

Eureka! Longer lasting, #energyefficient #LED bulbs brighten your home with big savings: http://t.co/B2Uxt1qnaD http://t.co

By Walmart Green

5:52pm January 29, 2015

Looking to save money on LED lights? Consumer Reports suggests buying from Walmart’s Great Value brand for savings: http://t.co/E6it8zz8uf

By Walmart Green

6:17am January 08, 2015

Making progress: Walmart has come a long way in 10 years w/ sustainability goals: http://t.co/fTnNDJCXwW

By Walmart Green

3:31pm January 05, 2015