15,628 batteries recycled in competition, to decrease pollution

Frances Myers

Students in Free Enterprise hosted 10 ISU student organizations in a competition to see who could recycle the most batteries. In this collaborative effort, more than 15,628 pounds of batteries were recycled.

Jeff Dotzler, senior in marketing and president of SIFE, led the ceremony Tuesday afternoon in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union to thank each organization for their efforts and recognize the top collectors of batteries.

“I can speak for SIFE when I say that being as this was our first year holding the competition, we did not know how it would unfold,” Dotzler said. “The amount of batteries collected exceeded even our wildest expectations.”

After speaking about the overall purpose of the competition and SIFE, Dotzler turned over the microphone to Ben Schobert, senior in management and SIFE vice president of administration, to talk about why it is so important to take the recycling of batteries seriously.

“Every year almost three billion small batteries and 99 million car batteries are sold in the U.S. alone,” Schobert said. “All those car batteries each contain 21 pounds of lead and a gallon of sulfuric acid. That’s almost 190 million pounds of lead and another 100 million gallons of sulfuric acid.”

Kessehu-Usert James, sophomore in pre-business and SIFE vice president of projects, spoke about the process the lead in batteries undergoes when the batteries are recycled.

James said the lead recycling process is a seven-step process. This includes receiving, separation, containment, purification, smelting and refining, casting and shipping.

“In the first step, batteries are sent to the raw materials processing center,” James said. “After this they are broken apart in the hammer mill and the lead is separated from the plastics by a process of screening and gravity separation.”

“After the materials are separated, the recovered lead and other lead wastes are stored in a specially designed containment building. In the next step, the lead goes through an advanced waste water purification and treatment system.”

“Then, after the lead is melted in blast furnaces, the refined lead is poured into molds and cooled. Then the refined lead and plastics are shipped to customers nationwide to be reincarnated as batteries and other products.”

Nancy Breen, owner of the Interstate All Battery Center in Ames and Cedar Falls, spoke about how she came to SIFE for this competition.

She said Interstate All Battery is always looking for projects, so after deciding to see how her business could collaborate with an organization on Iowa State’s campus, she found out about SIFE and researched it. After talking with Dotzler, the project was then brought to the group, approved and was underway by the beginning of January.

The collection for the competition ran from Jan. 31 until Feb. 11. After all the batteries were collected, the winners were determined by which organization raised the most batteries as well as who was the most creative and innovative.

Each organization was asked to describe their efforts and strategies in collecting batteries. Many of the student clubs reached out to outside organizations as well as the hometowns of members to raise awareness for their cause. Some relied on technology, utilizing such media as e-mail and Facebook, while others used word of mouth and various campus department newsletters.

The third place winner in the competition, receiving a trophy and a $100 reward, was the Agronomy Club.

Tyler Reimers, junior in agronomy and president of the Agronomy Club, was on hand to receive the trophy and monetary prize on behalf of his organization.

“The reason that the Agronomy Club entered the SIFE Battery Collection Competition is two-fold,” Reimers said. “First, the Agronomy Club consists of several members that come from a farm background and many farms have old batteries lying around. [Second,] we at the Agronomy Club realized that entering this competition would be a great way for our club to directly help clean up hazards on farms of our members and promote farm safety as well as recycling.”

In second place was the Family and Consumer Sciences Education and Studies Club. They received a trophy and a $250 reward.

The Wesley Foundation — United Methodist Student Center — came in first place for the competition, receiving a trophy and $500 cash prize.