Which dollar-store batteries stand up to big-name brands, and which should you avoid? | CBC News


A CBC Market check of double-A disposable batteries discovered that whereas main model names ship on their advertising promise to be long-lasting, batteries purchased at two main greenback shops did surprisingly effectively and supply good worth for cost-conscious buyers.

However the check additionally discovered that not all greenback retailer batteries are created equally and sure sorts of batteries didn’t carry out effectively, with consultants warning that they need to be averted regardless of their low value.

  • Watch the total Market investigation Friday at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Market, teaming with researchers from Ontario Tech College in Oshawa, Ont., examined 240 double-A disposable batteries from six manufacturers. The manufacturers examined had been Energizer, Duracell, Canadian Tire’s Noma, Walmart’s Nice Worth, E-Circuit from Greenback Tree, in addition to Panasonic batteries from each Dollarama and Greenback Tree.

Within the exams, which simulated totally different power drain ranges, Energizer and Duracell lasted the longest. However it was E-Circuit alkaline, a model imported by and bought at Greenback Tree, that held its personal towards the extra well-known manufacturers, lasting practically as lengthy and costing solely $1.25 for a pack of 4.

The researchers used the totally different drain situations — low, medium and excessive — to simulate real-life makes use of. They mentioned the low-level drain is just like the continual use of a pc mouse or TV distant management. The medium drain is just like steady use of a remote-controlled toy or gaming controller, whereas excessive drain is sort of a high-powered flashlight. 


Ontario Tech engineering assistant professor Xianke Lin, who supervised the check, famous that the outcomes, whereas stunning, shouldn’t be used as a proxy for all battery efficiency as a result of the check cannot completely simulate how batteries are utilized in actual life.

Nonetheless, the E-Circuit’s worth comes into focus when evaluating value per battery and capability. Primarily based on what Market paid, the common value per E-Circuit alkaline battery was simply 31 cents.

“Normally folks assume it is low-cost and should not have the most effective worth, however [E-Circuit alkaline] seems to be the most effective capability per greenback you spend,” mentioned Lin, of Ontario Tech’s college of engineering and utilized science. 

E-Circuit’s extremely alkaline battery carried out even longer general, although at a better value level.

Panasonic’s Alkaline Plus batteries bought from Dollarama and Greenback Tree additionally carried out effectively in all three simulated drain exams.

Assistant professor Xianke Lin from Ontario Tech College holds up two of the cells examined. (Steven D’Souza/CBC)

Batteries to keep away from

Whereas greenback retailer alkaline batteries provided surprises, one other sort bought at these shops, carbon zinc (or zinc carbon) didn’t do effectively within the exams.

These carbon zinc double-A batteries are beneficial for low-drain units and are a typical characteristic in greenback shops. In a check simulating the continual use of low-drain units, the E-Circuit and Panasonic carbon zinc batteries lasted six hours and 55 minutes and 7 hours and 45 minutes, respectively, whereas the opposite manufacturers’ alkalines all lasted in extra of 20 hours. 


Regardless of the E-Circuit and Panasonic carbon zinc being branded as “Tremendous Heavy Obligation,” they had been something however, in keeping with consultants.

“It is extremely complicated,” in keeping with Columbia College engineering affiliate professor Dan Steingart, who research the capability and power effectivity of disposable batteries.

“The jargon round that time period dates again to the seventies and it labored. I bear in mind my grandfather being like, ‘You already know, be sure you purchase the tremendous heavy obligation one versus the sunshine wimpy one,’ proper? It considerably affected a complete technology of battery customers.”

There is no cause to promote a zinc carbon system in 2022.– Dan Steingart, Columbia College

Also called dry cells, “tremendous heavy obligation” carbon zinc batteries are primarily based on a dated expertise from the 19th century, and sometimes marketed as an economical choice to be used in low-drain units like TV distant controls or wall-mounted clocks. 

Steingart, who has run exams just like Market‘s, mentioned: “I could not discover a single use case the place the zinc carbon outperformed in any manner the alkaline cells…. There is no cause to promote a zinc carbon system in 2022.”

Although the batteries are beneficial just for sure units that do not require a number of energy, many Canadians informed Market they do not discover these ideas on the battery packs.

Given their doubtless use in different units, the researchers additionally examined the carbon zinc batteries within the simulated high-drain exams.

Ontario Tech College researcher Jonathan Couture with a Panasonic carbon zinc double-A battery that carried out poorly within the exams. The corporate recommends them for low-drain units. (Steven D’Souza/CBC)

The Panasonic and E-Circuit carbon zinc batteries lasted slightly below seven minutes beneath high-draw circumstances, whereas all of the alkaline batteries lasted round an hour.

“Zinc carbon cells are just about defunct and shouldn’t be made or bought anymore,” mentioned Steingart. 

Consultants mentioned the hot button is searching for alkaline batteries on the greenback shops and avoiding the cheaper carbon zinc batteries.

Panasonic informed Market its carbon zinc batteries can last as long as a 12 months in low-drain units and that it really works with shops to coach customers about their use.

“Carbon zinc batteries are a longtime expertise and when used appropriately in beneficial units, they supply nice efficiency and worth,” Panasonic said in a press release, and mentioned customers must be conscious that totally different batteries are higher fitted to sure units.

Dollar Tree, the importer of E-Circuit batteries, didn’t reply to questions in regards to the carbon zinc batteries, however did acknowledge they’re bought and their merchandise general match the low-priced wants of its clients.

Dollarama, which together with Greenback Tree carries Panasonic carbon zinc batteries, says it gives “a choice of Panasonic carbon zinc and alkaline battery pack choices to our clients, thereby offering them with entry to a spread of choices inside our low mounted value factors, relying on their want.”

Shoppers assist pay to recycle battery waste — the place’s it going?

Double-A batteries are among the many mostly used — and disposed of — in Canadian households. Based on Call2Recycle, the not-for-profit that manages such a waste, Canadians recycled 4.1 million kilograms of batteries in 2020.

Shoppers pay an eco payment — typically known as an environmental dealing with payment (EHF) — for batteries bought in Ontario, Manitoba, B.C., Quebec, and Saskatchewan. Whereas environmental charges to cowl the price of digital waste are utilized to digital gadgets and TVs bought in most Canadian provinces, not all provinces have eco fees on batteries particularly. 

In Ontario, battery producers and retailers at the moment are liable for recycling their used batteries, and this shopper payment could also be added on the checkout to ensure that companies to cover their own recycling costs. 

Market paid about 5 cents a battery for eco charges in Ontario, and $2.40 on a 48-cell pack.

Most family batteries in Ontario used to finish up at Ontario’s greatest battery recycling plant, Uncooked Supplies Firm (RMC), in Welland, Ont.

Alkaline batteries bought from Dollarama and Greenback Tree carried out effectively within the exams carried out for Market. (Steven D’Souza/CBC)

Nevertheless, Market has found that useless batteries collected for disposal in Ontario are now not being despatched there. 

Joe Zenobio, president of Call2Recycle, Canada’s largest battery collector and recycler, wrote that the group has terminated some agreements for non-compliance “associated to the gathering of qualifying batteries” in Ontario. 

RMC informed Market it has by no means acquired discover of rules violations in its 35 years of operation and is combating Call2Recycle’s choice.

Useful resource Productiveness and Restoration Authority (RPRA), the regulator of Ontario’s round economic system legal guidelines, confirmed in an electronic mail that Call2Recycle has informed the company that it intends to ship batteries to Michigan. Call2Recycle informed Market it’s working with recycling corporations in Michigan, in addition to Quebec, however wouldn’t say what number of batteries are going the place or when.

Shoppers not obligated to pay eco charges

Jo-Anne St. Godard, head of Round Innovation Council, previously the Recycling Council of Ontario and now a nationwide advocacy group, mentioned sending useless batteries in a foreign country for recycling just isn’t superb. Whereas it is troublesome to measure the transport emissions towards the recycling advantages, she would favor to see help for each native recycling options, and the native economic system. 

St. Godard mentioned Ontario eco charges usually are not a tax, and that buyers aren’t obligated to pay them. 

“I believe [consumers] must ask questions on the level of sale once they’re seeing these charges utilized they usually actually must ask questions of the federal government by way of the place is that this cash going, how is that this cash being managed,” she mentioned.

WATCH | What you have to learn about leaking batteries:

Why do some batteries leak?

Many Canadians informed CBC Market they’ve seen leaky batteries, typically of their units and infrequently contemporary out of the pack. We investigated to seek out out why this occurred and what corporations needed to say about it. Watch the video to additionally see some surprising moments within the lab and with our crew. 1:38

Phillip Robinson, press secretary for provincial Setting Minister David Piccini, mentioned in an emailed response: “The Batteries Regulation doesn’t embody an audit requirement associated to seen charges but when a shopper believes the payment they had been charged is simply too excessive, the Client Safety Act protects customers from unfair practices, together with defending customers from false, deceptive or misleading communications referring to charges.”

The Ministry of Authorities and Client Providers mentioned in an electronic mail that it’s as much as every enterprise to resolve whether or not to cost environmental charges on batteries or electronics and decide what quantity the payment must be to get well their recycling prices, and a enterprise can’t misrepresent the aim of a payment. 

Shoppers who imagine that the aim of a payment is being misrepresented ought to report it to the Ministry of Authorities and Client Providers at 416-326-8800 or toll-free at 1-800-889-9768, whereas customers who’ve considerations in regards to the actions taken by an organization to recycle batteries ought to contact the Useful resource Productiveness and Restoration Authority (RPRA) at 416-226-5113 or [email protected]

No matter what’s taking place behind the scenes within the business, St. Godard mentioned customers ought to hold dropping battery waste at assortment depots however ought to think about urgent the federal government for solutions on the place the waste and eco charges are going. 

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