The evening news changed the direction of Sri Nihal Tammana’s life three years ago.
It was on his 10th birthday that he watched a reporter describe how discarded batteries, mixed with trash, can cause fires. That broadcast led Tammana, who lives in Edison, to start Recycle My Battery, a campaign dedicated to exactly that.
“It’s due to the chemicals and electrodes that causes dead batteries to explode in the trash and in our landfills,” Tammana says of the flames that grabbed his attention. “These explosions cause fires that devastate everything in their path. If we don’t take action now, Mother Earth could become a burning planet. So never, and I mean never, throw a battery into the trash.”
Tammana’s website explains safe ways to recycle various batteries, including tiny lithium ones that power cell phones, the kinds found in household products, and even larger car and industrial batteries. Tammana has recycled more than 200,000 batteries to date with the help of children and adults who visit his website. His TED Talk, along with his President’s Volunteer Service Award, President’s Environmental Youth Award, and Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, garner attention from students around the world.
“Nihal is passionate about recycling used batteries and educating people about the importance of doing so,” says Barbara Ann Richman, executive director of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. He has inspired hundreds of student volunteers across the globe to join his cause. “We chose him as a 2022 winner for his work to protect the planet and for the way he does it—with such determination, perseverance, courage and heart.”
Tammana wants everyone to recycle batteries by dropping them off at designated community sites or by signing up on his website to receive recycling bins for homes and schools. The bins are free, thanks to a grant. Students in 14 states, as well as India, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland, participate in Recycle My Battery programs, but the nonprofit’s roots are in New Jersey.
“He reached out to peers around the world to share his vision and his work,” says Nicole Cirillo, principal of Edison’s Woodbrook Elementary School, which Tammana attended. “He was not interested in keeping it all under his control. Recycle My Battery is not about Nihal; it is about Mother Earth.
“I’m in awe of his accomplishments. He has reached children and adults to improve our environment. And it all started at Woodbrook.”
Tammana is now in eighth grade at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Edison, where he continues to preach simple conservation methods.
“Recycling batteries is something all of us can do,” he says, “for the good of the planet.”
Founded in 2019, Recycle My Battery’s mission is to promote and facilitate battery recycling through safe disposal and education. Tammana welcomes donations, and those interested can request a battery bin online. To learn more, visit recyclemybattery.org or email [email protected].
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