Since the autumn of 2018, transparent boxes with the inscription “As we give away batteries, we save nature!” began to appear in some Voronezh stores and social institutions. They were made by the Voronezh public activist Eduard Dolmatov, the creator of the non-profit center for environmental initiatives Clean Path (Chistaya Tropa). In November 2018, the organization won a presidential grant for a battery collection project for further recycling. How the project works and where you can hand over the batteries – read in the RIA "Voronezh" article.

By education, Eduard Dolmatov is a military navigator who graduated from a flying military school in Chelyabinsk. Now he is a manager in a trading company. And in his free time, Eduard and his team participate in community work days and install transparent boxes for battery collection in Voronezh stores. The information about all the collection venues is published on the webpage of their public organization - the center of environmental initiatives.

– Since my childhood, I was interested in the mysterious picture on batteries - a crossed out trash bin. I understood that, probably, they should not be thrown into regular trash bins, but I had no idea where they should go. Since batteries have appeared in the USSR, they have been lying in the Russian soil, – Eduard Dolmatov said.

The Voronezh citizen came up with an idea to collect and dispose of batteries five years ago after a seminar on the problems of collecting and disposing of batteries. During it, environmental activist Ksenia Demicheva spoke about the dangers of hazardous waste which includes batteries. She explained that they cannot be thrown away to a landfill: a single AA battery thrown into the landfill pollutes 20 square meters of land and 400 liters of water.

The metallic coating of the battery is destroyed by moisture, and all its harmful filling (alkalis and heavy metals - mercury, lead, nickel, cadmium, zinc, manganese, lithium) seeps into the soil, groundwater, rivers, and lakes. All these poisons enter the human body with food and water, accumulate and provoke cancer.

So where do you take the batteries? Just a few years ago, no one knew what to do with their disposal.

– By law, homeowner associations and property management companies are required to accept batteries, but what will happen to them next is unclear. My friend had five-liter battery collection bins in his apartment block, and all the residents were proud of it. But as it turned out, employees of the homeowner association simply dumped them in a landfill. There was one hypermarket that accepted batteries — I collected them in a plastic bottle and handed them to the sellers. But I didn’t know what they did with them later - the feeling that something was wrong did not give me peace, – Eduard recalls.

In Europe, he says, there is no problem with battery disposal. Their producers pay a recycling tax from which the necessary infrastructure is built: people throw batteries into a special container that stands at each dumpster, then a special vehicle takes it and takes the batteries to a storage place. From there, they are sent for recycling.

In Russia, the only battery recycling plant in the whole country – Megapolisresurs – was opened in 2013. It is in Chelyabinsk – ironically, it is where Eduard Dolmatov studied to become a pilot.

In order to influence the environmental situation, Dolmatov created a non-profit organization that not only collects batteries but also conducts community work days. In November 2018, Eduard won a presidential grant for a project of battery collection and their further disposal. By that time, Eduard had assembled a team that included several volunteers, a project coordinator, and an accountant. The grant funds were used to make transparent battery collection boxes. Then the public activists went to negotiate with the owners of retail chains.

– First, we checked the battery reception venues stated on the website of the Megapolisresurs Plant. Six venues at once belonged to the Belgorod company AKS. Then I discovered that the batteries were being accepted at Decathlon, began to negotiate with the Lenta hypermarket chain after which they installed our boxes. Later, Mister Kot and Mosigra chains, the management of which was very interested in the project, joined it, – the Voronezh resident reported.

Now the boxes stand at more than 30 venues – not only in stores but also in kindergartens and branches of the of young natural scientist station.

Transparent containers are designed for batteries of all sizes and types: AA batteries, ААА batteries, button, coin and watch cells (which are inserted into an electronic watch and camera flashes), cell phone batteries and big LR 20s. Citizens often bring accumulated batteries in bags. But, sadly, not everywhere they are accepted in large quantities. For example, at Billa hypermarkets, they take no more than 20 from a single person.

When the boxes are overfilled with batteries, the Clean Path team takes them, weighs them (for reports) and takes them to a rented warehouse. The disposal of batteries is paid for by the NPO, and the owners of retail chains transfer money to the organization’s account.

Right now, about 200 kg of batteries are stored at the Clean Path’s warehouse. As soon as the weight reaches a ton, Eduard will contact Chelyabinsk from where a vehicle will come to the warehouse and collect the accumulated batteries. With the inclusion of transportation, the recycling of 1 kg of batteries will cost 500 rubles.

– Why wait for the car? The distance from Voronezh to Chelyabinsk is 2 thousand km. The trip will take four days and a load of gas. If I had free time, I would go there myself or send batteries with a car going in that direction. But I need to be sure that this car will take the batteries to the factory and not throw them away, –Dolmatov explained.

According to the public activist, it is better to store the batteries in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bottles: should moisture get inside the bottle, batteries will begin to oxidize and therefore excrete harmful substances:

– So, it is best to keep batteries in a dry place away from sunlight and radiators. Collection, storage, transportation and disposal of batteries require a license which costs about 80 thousand rubles. And according to the Russian legislation, electrochemical cells can be accumulated for a period of up to 11 months. Usually, no one keeps them for more than 11 months.

Another field of Clean Path’s work is community work days. Their plans for the nearest future include the cleaning of the Solod ecosite in the village of Yamnoye - a little-known natural landmark in Ramonsky District. According to Dolmatov, this picturesque place overlooking the lake "has turned into a spontaneous dump of garbage, plastic bottles, and tires."

– In 2000, I went to Egypt. When I saw how easy the Egyptians litter their country, I was shocked. For example, drivers threw bags of garbage out of their car windows right before my eyes. I was proud that there was no such thing in Voronezh. And now, when I walk through the Botanical Garden or the Severny Forest with its remaining Scythian burial mounds, I see loads of garbage left after barbecues by campers. Why don't they clean up after themselves? It's not hard. Not to litter is much easier than to clean up later, – Eduard Dolmatov reasoned.

Public activists participate in environmental Ecodvor campaigns organized by eco-activist Yekaterina Khomich. They tell the city residents about separate waste collection and the second life of the no longer needed things.

– Everything is reproducible. For example, batteries are recycled into minerals - manganese, zinc, nickel, iron, graphite, – Eduard Dolmatov noted.

Where to turn in batteries in Voronezh?

Here is the list of battery accepting venues, federal and local retail chains that have an agreement with Megapolisresurs Group of Companies:

1. Decathlon: Solnechny village, 3, Parkovaya Street, Grad Shopping and Entertainment Complex.

2. Leroy Merlin: Solnechny village, 3, Parkovaya Street, Grad Shopping and Entertainment Complex.

3. Leroy Merlin: Otradnoye village, 11, Avtodorozhnaya Street.

4. Lenta: 24, Domostroiteley Street, 24, 2nd floor.

5. Lenta/AKS: 24, Domostroiteley Street, 24, 1st floor.

6. Lenta: 129/1, Moskovsky Avenue, 1st floor.

7. Flash-Bat (AKS): 129/1, Moskovsky Avenue, 1st floor.

8. Liniya: 38, Pobedy Boulevard, 38, 1st floor.

9. Liniya/AKS: 7, Perevertkina Street, 1st floor (to the left).

10. Liniya/AKS: 7, Perevertkina Street, 7, 1st floor (to the right).

11. Evropa/AKS: 95B, Leninsky Avenue, 1st floor.

12. VkusVill: 35, Kholzunova Street, 1st floor.

13. VkusVill: 31, Koltsovskaya Street, 1st floor.

14. VkusVill: 129/1, Moskovsky Avenue, 1st floor.

15. Castorama: 45G, Patriotov Avenue.

Here is the list of battery accepting venues that have an agreement with the Clean Path:

1. Axioma/Mosigra_Voronezh: 23B, Pobedy Boulevard, 3rd floor.

2. Mosigra_Voronezh: 35, Koltsovskaya Street, 4th floor.

3. Mosigra_Voronezh: 10, Plekhanovskaya Street, 1st floor.

4. Mister Kot: 10, Shendrikova Street.

5. Mister Kot: 32B, Srednemoskovskaya Street, Poisk Shopping and Entertainment Center, shopping arcades.

6. Mister Kot: 27G, Kosmonavtov Street, Karusel.

7. “Mr. Cat”: 2V, Uryvskogo Street, Romashka Shopping Center.

8. Mister Kot: 131, Dimitrova Street.

9. Mister Kot: 64, Friedrich Engels Street, Atmosfera Shopping Center.

10. Mister Kot: 30, Pobedy Boulevard, Don Shopping Center.

11. Mister Kot: 90/1, Moskovsky Avenue, Voronezhsky Market, 2nd floor.

12. Tekstilshchiki Business Center: 5, Tekstilshchikov Street.

13. Rostok Ecological and Biological Center: 18, Moskovsky Avenue.

14. Rostok Ecological and Biological Center: 34A, Kosmonavtov Street.

15. Nikitin Library: 36, Ordzhonikidze Street.

16. Kindergarten №186: 2, Vatutina Street.

17. iPochinil (smartphone, laptop and tablet repair shop): 3/2, Marshak Street.

18. Ozon Ecological and Analytical Laboratory: 3A, Ordzhonikidze Street.