Illuminated exit signs are a critical safety feature of most commercial buildings.
If the power goes out or in an emergency, the light from these signs may truly be a lifesaver.
However, emergency and exit lighting does have a dark side. About 90% of the batteries that power these lights are nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd), meaning they are amongst the most hazardous of all batteries.
Cadmium is the big problem. An estimated five million Ni-Cd batteries containing about 90 tonnes of this toxic heavy metal end up in landfill each year. Yet the solution is simple. Recycling batteries from exit signs ensures the cadmium is recovered for re-use rather than ending up in landfill.
However, with just 10% of these nickel cadmium batteries being recycled, active programs are required to boost this rate.