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National campaign collects used batteries for recycling

June 14, 2016

Used batteries are highly polluting for the environment and there are no companies in Costa Rica that can recycle them.

For that reason the Life Insurance Company of the Education Sector (SSVMN) is hosting a collection campaign this month of both acid and alkaline batteries that will be sent to a recycling center in Canada.

Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel as well as other toxic chemicals that make it difficult to dispose of them in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that the external materials of batteries take some 100 years to decompose and the chemicals and heavy metals inside them can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

Catalina Flores Abarca, a spokeswoman with the SSVMN, said this is the fourth year they’ve hosted the collection campaign. As part of its social responsibility program the company collects the batteries and pays to have them transported and shipped to Canada.

The improper disposal of batteries represents high contamination risks for soil, water and air, as internal gases can cause the battery to bulge and leak. A single alkaline battery has enough contaminants to pollute 167,000 liters of water, SSVMN reported.

What kind of batteries are received?

The company is collecting acid and alkaline batteries including rectangular 6V-9V and cylindrical batteries in AA, AAA, AAAA, C and D sizes.

They can be in any state, even damaged. “We just ask people to handle them carefully to avoid contact with toxic leaks or gases,” Flores said.

The only batteries that are not being accepted are button cell batteries, such as those used in watches.

People can bring batteries to any of the SSVNM’s 14 branches in San José, Perez Zeledón, Alajuela, San Ramón, San Carlos, Liberia, Nicoya, Puntarenas, Ciudad Neily, Heredia, Cartago, Turrialba Limón and Guápiles.

See a detailed list of all branches, addresses and phone numbers here.

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