MANY of us have been worried of the pollution that is being felt around us. Yet one of the most dangerous pollutants can be avoided by motor vehicle owners. I am referring to used lead batteries that are classified as toxic waste and whose disposal is strictly regulated by law.

Unfortunately, vehicle owners may not be aware of just how to dispose of such wastes, which can cause serious nervous and circulatory damage if the lead is accidentally ingested. If sulfuric acid is spilled into the ground, it may even seep into underground aquifers, contaminating our deep-well water supply.

It may look completely safe while our car batteries are intact with the protective housing, yet it can break if not properly disposed of, spilling the dangerous elements within. But there is hope.

Birth of Bantay Baterya

In October-November 2000, Bantay Kalikasan of ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (now ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. or ALKFI) started the project known as Bantay Baterya. It aims to collect used junk lead-acid batteries for recycling into raw materials for the production of new batteries, consequently helping remove pollutants which can harm our lives and the environment.

To make the Bantay Baterya project effective and successful, Bantay Kalikasan, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Philippine Recyclers Inc. signed a memorandum of agreement to actively campaign for the recycling of used lead-acid batteries (ULAB).

Next, the project implementors requested companies for donations of ULAB earmarked for disposal. Once a donation is confirmed, Bantay Kalikasan, in tandem with Oriental & Motolite Marketing Corporation (OMMC), assures the proper pick-up, transport and disposal of the donated batteries.

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100% tax deductibility

A 100% tax deductibility for the value of donated batteries (as allowable expenses) via a Bureau of Internal Revenue-issued certificate of donation is given to the donor company. Evergreen Environment Resources then reprocesses the batteries, which will be used as raw materials in manufacturing new batteries. OMMC determines the monetary value and subsequently remits the amount to ALKFI. Funds raised through the project are used to support the foundation’s environmental undertakings.

OMCC is known for its extended producer’s responsibility, with its nationwide ULAB collection program being a DENR-accredited transporter of ULAB.

Another party involved with this project is Envirocare Management Precision Inc. Envirocare is the Philippines’ first TÜV ISO 4001-certified waste transporter, having successfully passed the international certification for environmental management system and gearing up for ISO 18001 and R2 (Responsible Recycling) certification.

Benefits to donors

Aside from the tax benefits, the donor company also enjoys other perks and is relieved of the hassles of disposing of their ULAB with free transport/hauling of the batteries, assurance of proper pick-up and disposal of donated hazardous waste by well-trained personnel, and the issuance of a certificate of treatment duly received and stamped by the DENR-EMB. And since this is a donation, it can be part of the company’s CSR activities which benefit the communities Bantay Kalikasan is assisting nationwide.

I remember the time I accompanied the pick-up of almost a hundred used batteries from a major newspaper company—it was a sight to see so many discarded batteries to be recycled when before these would just be dumped elsewhere to poison the air we breathe.

Ogie Agaton, from the logistics department of Eugenio Lopez Foundation Inc., has been personally donating his car batteries ever since he heard of this project of Bantay Kalikasan.

“Every time I replace my battery, I return to the dealer for a discount on the total price of the new battery. Doing this is my own small way of contributing to the safety of our environment because I know the dealer will properly dispose of the used battery,” he says.

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5 million kilos

Other sources of lead-acid batteries aside from automotive vehicles are motorcycles, rechargeable lamps, aircraft, gensets, forklifts, marine vessels and others. Lead-acid batteries are a major component in industries (telecommunications, semiconductor production and transportation). We notice that benefits to industries are undermined when these are disposed of indiscriminately, posing a serious threat to ourselves and the environment.

Since the project began, five million kilos of used lead batteries have been collected and recycled.

For general information, the following are effects of hazardous wastes: asthma, vomiting, kidney damage, skin irritation, cancer, decreased IQ, nervousness, headaches and liver damage.

Waste electrical equipment

From Bantay Baterya to Bantay Langis (started in 2007), Bantay Kalikasan’s hazardous waste collection projects are now into waste electrical and electronic equipment or WEEE, which is virtually anything with a plug or a battery that may have reached the end of its user life or may be old, defective or obsolete. Those items that use electricity usually connected via a plug or battery are included in this waste category.

We may be exposed to a lot of toxic waste today, but we now know what to do about it. There is the seed of hope for a clean environment through Bantay Baterya and other projects of Bantay Kalikasan, now into its second decade of impactful assistance to save the environment.

For more details on how we can help, call Bantay Kalikasan at 415-2272 loc. 3742.