Temperature loggers are used all over the world, included in shipping consignments from one side of the globe to the other and mostly it’s impossible to keep track of where they end up or to arrange for their return. Single-use loggers are therefore a good fit for such purposes, as if the device cost is low enough, there is no need to collect and return them for re-use, thus eliminating complications and costs in the logistics chain. One problem with this approach however is that it is difficult to know if the logger has been recycled. Electronics recycling is a complicated process, large numbers of different materials, with different safety hazards have to be grouped together to be broken down and a new purpose identified for each. All electronic components contain valuable metals such as gold, since it is an ideal conductor and does not corrode, making it perfect for connections, however other much lower value metals are not always worth collecting for recycling.
There is also the big problem of plastics recycling and the issues which are tending to dominate the green agenda at the present time. There are many different types of plastics used in today’s products and for them to be reused again, given their much lower value compared to metals, it’s not always commercially viable to process them.
In a temperature logger, the main components are the electronics and sensor hardware, casework and the battery. Battery types have a big impact on the environment if they are not recycled correctly. In the past, many containing heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium have simply been dumped in ground fill sites, causing consequent problems with pollution. The current generation of lithium batteries of popular cell types potentially have the most impact, due to the high energy cost of lithium extraction and processing. Alkaline batteries, such as the ones used in our own products, Smashtag Chill and Essential, contain more readily accessible materials, zinc and manganese dioxide.
Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that what we introduce into the environment has a minimal effect on the sustainability of the planet. Our products can be readily recycled and we are happy to enter into agreements to provide a credit against future sales of loggers which are returned to us for recycling. In the best recycling case, our loggers can simply be fitted with new batteries, re-programmed and packaged and re-sold. In this case, everything except the minimised plastic packaging of the logger and the batteries are 100% reused, with minimal energy input and the discarded plastics and batteries are grouped and sent for recycling.