Julie’s Bicycle launched its new UK-wide Better Batteries campaign (on Tuesday 13th September) at PLASA 2011. The campaign aims to bring together the music and theatre industries in a drive to switch over to rechargeable battery systems, particularly for portable sound equipment, and increase the rate of recycling for both disposable and rechargeable batteries. Focused on venues and individual productions the campaign is backed by scientific research and case studies from commercial theatre productions which prove the reliability of the technology, environmental benefits and cash savings available.
Broadway theatre productions already using rechargeable batteries have made significant financial savings, after being encouraged to use rechargeable battery systems by a highly successful Broadway Green Alliance campaign. The production of WICKED on Broadway has been using nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries since October 2008 and, since then, has made savings of over $4,300 (£2,600) per year, replacing a turnover of 15,808 disposable batteries per year (38 per show) to a tiny 76 rechargeable batteries per year. The West End production of WICKED at the Apollo Victoria Theatre followed suit in June 2011 and this week they will break even on the purchase of their rechargeable battery system, 15 weeks after they began using it. So far they’ve saved purchasing over 2,500 batteries, equivalent to more than £500.
The environmental benefits associated with using rechargeable batteries and recycling after use include less pressure on natural resources, less pollution from the manufacturing process, less waste created and less carbon emissions resulting from transport and distribution, due to a decrease in the quantity of products being manufactured. Research by UNIROSS (2007) has supported this by showing that throughout their life cycle rechargeable batteries have 32 times less impact on the environment than disposable batteries.
Better Batteries also aims to increase battery recycling rates in the UK, in line with government regulation. In 2009 only 10% of batteries were recycled in the UK and in February 2010 regulation was put in place requiring this to increase to 18% in 2011, and 45% by 2016. Recycling batteries is crucial to reuse finite natural resources and prevent the release of harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury or cadmium.
Organisations, companies and individuals can sign up to Better Batteries via the campaign website, where information and advice to assist them switch to recharging and recycling their batteries is freely available: