The new Fuji EnviroMAX (note the capital MAX!) batteries are pretty awesome. They don’t contain cadmium, mercury, or PVC. They are made in factories that meet strict ISO regulations for waste management, don’t use ozone depleting compounds in the manufacturing process, and are packaged with recycled paper and PET plastic. Hell they even won the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, for it’s “Impressive Performance” (note that all of the caps were not my doing). The EnviroMAX offers “MAXIMUM POWER Minimum Impact” the packaging even has grass growing on it. Fuji claims they are “landfill safe” and that they have “unsurpassed extreme temperature performance” because being safe to throw out, and being extreme (!!) are important features. They even come in at about the same price as other batteries. In short this is the one of the greenest one time use batteries to hit the market.
I was sent two packages of them by a Fuji person to test out. I put them into my digital camera and my bike light. They performed very well, providing about the same number of pictures and same amount of light as the rechargeable batteries I use currently. They did exactly what you expect a battery to do. That point I believe is their biggest selling point. You do not need heavy metals, wasteful factories, and non-recycled packaging to make batteries. You can create the exact same product people have been buying for ages, only you can make it with less waste, no heavy metals, and in a way that is more gentle on the planet. It is an inspiration to other companies that have been using wasteful techniques and bad materials.
But therein lies this products glaring and ultimately insurmountable fault. These are the same old batteries that you always see. Sure they have been greened up, but once my digital camera ate through them, guess what, they are headed for the lanfill. I can’t recharge them. I can’t reuse them, and the fact that they are “landfill safe” is going to keep most people from even bothering to recycle them. In short this product is a disaster. Not because it is bad for the earth, but because it doesn’t represent a real change in thinking. Fuji marketing people (or if I am less cynical perhaps they had a real desire to be greener) thought that green would sell, so they greened up the process of making the SAME THING they used to make. Business as usual thinking is what got us into this problem.
“Eco-friendly” one time use batteries (even ones made in factories with no ozone depleting chemicals, and packaged in recycled cardboard) fall into the same category as “clean coal“, or bio-diesel made from factory farmed chicken fat. They are all just more of the same head down thinking that caused the current climate crisis. If Fuji was truly interested in being eco-friendly they would stop making one time use batteries all together. They would then work diligently to improve the performance, life span, and recycling infrastructure for their rechargeable batteries. Perhaps even creating innovative ways to recharge said batteries without using electricity from the grid (solar, wind up, bicycle attachments, etc). They would design a system (perhaps like netflix?) in which the batteries you buy have a built in recycling pouch that you use to send them back to be recycled when they are done. Every battery would be built from the ground up with reuse in mind. The entire system from cradle to grave of the product would be thought out in detail. Things like landfills would not entire into the equation until the materials had been used many many times.
To be clear I do not think this is a “green wash” (whereby a company hypes up the ‘greenness’ of a product without actually making it a better product), I think this is an actual improvement over sub-standard (aka: normal) one time use batteries. But I do think it is disingenuous for Fuji to claim that this product is better for the planet than other one time use batteries. The reason why being that the EnviroMAX battery simply changes the bandage, without addressing the cause of the wound.
I applaud Fuji for making a battery that is greener than the rest, but ultimately have to recommend that you don’t buy this (or any one time use battery) product. Simply because a battery has no mercury in it doesn’t mean that it should be purchased if doing so would perpetuate a consumer model built on one time use, waste, and the idea that you can fix the earths problems by simply making a little change to a product, and not the behavior that necessitates that problem.