RECYCLING batteries is not only a matter of environmental consciousness. It is also a tangible example of the direct impact that environment pollution may have on humans, according to the director of the AFIS Organisation, Chris Christodoulou.
Batteries, although small and innocent in their daily use, contain highly toxic substances that are very harmful to health and the environment, when thrown either directly to the environment or in landfills, Christodoulou said in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency.
Although batteries account for only 0.02% of the volume of municipal solid waste by weight, they contain 20% of the toxic substances, he said.
“The toxic substances contained in the batteries return to us through food, water and air. These substances have the ability to accumulate in our tissues and to stay in our body and grow, for many years. By increasing their quantity in our bodies, there are also growing chances for very serious problems in our health, very often irreversible.”
AFIS is a non-profit organization, created at the initiative of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE), as an umbrella organisation, and today shareholders are companies – importers of batteries in the Republic of Cyprus. More specifically, all importers of batteries or batteries incorporated into appliances in the Republic are obliged to recycle.
The contribution of the member companies, which pay fees for each battery placed on the market meet the costs required for the collection, transportation and recycling of batteries, the information programme and public awareness.
In Cyprus, AFIS has undertaken the disposal of household batteries up to 2kg. Specifically, it collects and recycles all portable batteries found in recorders, radios, portable audio devices, all types of games, mobile and cordless phones, laptop, cameras, camcorders, all types of portable tools, and more.
Christodoulou said the batteries are collected in 3,200 recycling bins located in high-traffic locations throughout Cyprus. The public can find the bins mainly in telecommunications and electronics stores, supermarkets, shops, schools, public buildings and bank branches.
He added that the organization can place recycling bins wherever requested, with the exception of houses and residential complexes throughout Cyprus.
“There is already a bin for every 265 people, that is a very good density. There are 1,400 bins in Nicosia, 790 in Limassol, 450 in Larnaca, 370 in Paphos and 210 in Famagusta. There are also bins in all schools.
Since mid-2009, AFIS has collected and recycled 230 tonnes of batteries that would otherwise end up in landfills and the environment.
Once collected, they are stored and shipped abroad and specifically to Belgium to a licensed recycling plant. The first exports took place in September 2011.
However the non-participation of some companies in the industry creates unfair competition, Christodoulou said, because AFIS members have to sell more expensive products due to having to pay the recycling fees and including those costs in their prices.
He said this benefits and rewards those who break the law, rather than the opposite.
“To this end, the procedures have been completed and soon all imports will be checked by the port authorities, so that each importer is forced to comply with the environmental legislation. Those who break the law will soon have to face the consequences of the law, “he said.
To find a battery recycling bin and other information, the public can download the free application `ReCYcling Cys” for mobile or tablet, or visit the website www.afiscyprus.com.cy, or contact by phone in 7000 2347.