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The elephant in the room

Life-sized elephant made from 29,649 batteries highlights how many end up in landfill sites
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
The elephant in the room

It was a gruelling tusk, but a life-sized elephant has been created using 29,649 used batteries.

The installation was created to highlight the fact that 20,000 tonnes of portable cells end up in UK landfill sites every year.

To raise awareness of the issue, Duracell – which recycled 170 tonnes this year – launched a ‘Big Battery Hunt’ and recruited 1.3million schoolkids to hand batteries in.

A small number of these were used to create the 10ft-tall sculpture, which weighs two tonnes.

Kids teaching parents

The sculpture is intended to be a visual celebration of the environmental efforts of the primary school children who have been involved in the campaign.

With batteries dubbed the ‘elephant in room’ of the recycling debate, it is hoped the creation will inspire a whole new generation of battery recyclers.

The elephant will be on show at Hanwell Zoo in West London for the duration of the summer holidays.

Duracell hopes the saying ‘an elephant never forgets’ will inspire all of us not to forget Generation Z’s power to make mammoth change.

Tony Diaz, an artist and sculptor at Big Stuff Design which created it, said: ‘It’s taken 400 hours and in excess of 29,000 recycled batteries but every moment has been worth it. Creating this elephant has been a humbling reminder that powering change can come from anywhere.

‘It is so inspiring to see the younger generation actively involved in making the world a better place and teaching their own parents and loved ones about the importance of recycling.’

Artist and sculptor at Big Stuff Design

The Big Battery Hunt

This year the Big Battery Hunt challenged 1.3 million children from 5,800 schools around the country to pick up a Big Battery Hunt collection box and hunt for used batteries in their communities.

‘We are very proud to be the home of the Big Battery Hunt elephant and are very keen to continue to encourage our visitors to reduce landfill waste.

‘Our environment is so fragile, and now more than ever we all need to be doing our bit to protect our planet and the incredible biodiversity that calls it home.

‘We all have a responsibility to be more sustainable and we are calling on all of our visitors to make a difference by bringing their used batteries along with them on their visit to Hanwell Zoo.

‘We have bins in place to collect all the used batteries you can find.’

Spokesperson for Hanwell Zoo

Young activists

Christina Turner, associate marketing director at Duracell said: ‘Generation Z are increasingly making their voices on sustainability heard. By reflecting the provocative tone of the young activist movement and shining a spotlight on these young changemakers, the Big Battery Hunt aims to inspire long-term, positive recycling behaviours.’

‘We have been so impressed with the efforts of the 1.3 million students involved in the Big Battery Hunt this year and our recycled battery elephant is a true celebration of all those involved.

‘The participation this year has been overwhelming, with over 25% of all primary schools in the UK getting involved.

‘That’s a lot of children driving change. But you do not have to be of primary school age to be a battery recycler, it is a lot easier than people realise. You can even do it at your local grocery store.’

Associate marketing director at Duracell

The life-sized elephant artwork will be based in Ealing’s Hanwell Zoo from 31 July and throughout the school summer holidays for the public to come and visit.

After the holidays, all the batteries used in its construction will be recycled.

Click here to read our article about how fungi can recycle cobalt and lithium from rechargeable batteries.

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