By Clari Nolet, ESRAG Director, and Sonja Koch, Redwood Materials

Teach your neighbors to recycle their junk drawers

A flyer for Endwell Rotary Club’s recycling event illustrates the many devices powered by lithium- ion batteries in American homes.

Are you from the United States?  If so, Choose a date for next year to champion lithium-ion battery recycling in your community.  Here’s how to teach your neighbors to mine their junk drawers. Empower them by showing how their actions can make a big difference in conserving our planet’s resources and protecting the environment.

Why recycle batteries?

  • Protect our environment: recycling reduces the need for conventional mining and prevents toxic leaks in landfills.
  • Tap into the “urban mine:” Those of us in the United States spend trillions on electronics, yet recycle only 5% of lithium-ion batteries.
  • Boost our local supply chain and reduce reliance on imports, ensuring valuable metals remain in the U.S.

Redwood Materials and the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group (ESRAG) have teamed up since early 2022 to offer accessible community collection and battery recycling solutions in the United States. Download our toolkit to get started!  

Our old consumer devices, while small and easily forgotten, add up to a tremendous amount of material that can be part of the solution. We estimate that some of the largest lithium and cobalt reserves in the world can be found in America’s junk drawers. By organizing battery collection events, Rotarians are equipping their communities to responsibly recycle these critical battery materials from old phones, tablets, laptops and power tools.  The flyer here, from one of Endwell Rotary’s recycling events in New York State, shows some of the many places Americans can mine their homes for devices powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Redwood Materials is developing a closed-loop supply chain to power the United States’ clean energy transition. Redwood is now producing the most important components of a lithium-ion battery in the US for the first time, at scale, and from an increasing amount of recycled content from old batteries.  Use the toolkit to teach your community to identify and recycle devices with rechargeable batteries, from e-vehicles to electric toothbrushes.

Redwood workers disassembling electronics in their Nevada plant

On average, Redwood recovers more than 95% of critical minerals and uses those battery-grade metals to produce battery components that are supplied back to U.S. battery manufacturers.

The collaboration between ESRAG and Redwood Materials was born from the critical need to marry industry expertise with widespread community reach to address the challenge of lithium-ion battery recycling. Together, we’ve made substantial strides in enhancing consumer education and providing accessible recycling solutions. So far, our joint initiatives have led to the successful execution of nearly 50 collection events, the responsible recycling of over 5,000 pounds of batteries and devices, and the education of hundreds of Rotary Club members, thereby informing thousands across the United States about the importance of responsible recycling.

How can you participate?

  • Dedicate an upcoming Club meeting to discuss battery recycling efforts.
  • Choose a date to host a community event. Consider aligning your collection day with significant events like Battery Day, Earth Day, spring cleaning, or the week that college students move out of their dorms. Whichever date you choose, your efforts will drive positive change in your community!
  • Collect batteries and old devices: Gather any batteries and old devices you have in your home, from cell phones and tablets to power drills or vacuum batteries.
  • Locate a Redwood drop-off binOver 95 collection locations are available. Many are at Audi or Volkswagen dealerships.

Let’s close the loop, together. Looking forward to witnessing the change you drive.