Every time I get rid of used batteries, I have a tinge of guilt. I know that they’re recycled, but they don’t get remade as new batteries–their value isn’t retained. That’s finally starting to change.
Energizer announced this week that it’s unveiling the EcoAdvanced, the world’s first AA battery that’s made out of recycled batteries. The EcoAdvanced isn’t entirely recycled; just 4% of its contents are made from old alkaline batteries. But it’s more than has ever been done before.
The inspiration came to a group of Energizer employees seven years ago, while taking a tour of a battery recycling facility. At the end of the tour, they saw piles of recycled battery material, which would ultimately have second lives in road beds, the steel industry, and the paint industry. “At that point, it was a commonly held belief that it was impossible to put [battery material] back into high-performing batteries,” says Michelle Atkinson, Energizer’s CMO. “We said ‘There has to be a better way to take that material, close the loop, and put it into a battery.’ With the caveat that this has to maintain the performance.”
In the end, the EcoAdvanced turned out to be Energizer’s highest-performing alkaline battery.
According to Atkinson, Energizer refines recycled battery material (zinc or manganese) into usable active ingredients. Energizer gets its recycled material from partner facilities in Europe and North America. “In a typical alkaline battery today, 70% of the environmental impact comes from the mining of raw materials. We’ve been able to significantly reduce the amount of virgin material used and the environmental impact,” says Atkinson.
The price for consumers is 25% to 35% higher than regular batteries, but that’s because the EcoAdvanced lasts longer, not because it’s made with recycled materials. Atkinson declined to say what the extra cost will be on Energizer’s end.
Eventually, Energizer hopes to expand the program to other battery types–and to increase the amount of recycled material in each battery. By 2025, the company plans to have 40% recycled content in the EcoAdvanced.