Sanyo invited us to check out their new range of rechargeable batteries launched the other week, called Eneloop. While the thought of a new range of batteries doesn't exactly make me jump for joy, I was curious to see what all the hoopla was about. The event was held at the minus 5 bar, a bar entirely made from ice situated in Circular Quay.

After listening to the presentations by Sanyo managing director Bill Crichton, clean up Australia advocate Ian Kiernan and Product Manager Alex Fitz it was clear that the Eneloop wasn't exactly your run of the mill battery. There are a couple of things that set it apart. The first is that it comes pre-charged. Ok, so that doesn't exactly sound all that amazing, but this is actually the first ever battery to do it. The reason it is possible is that all rechargeable batteries rapidly lose charge when not in use. After one year, a usual battery will completely deplete its charge. The Eneloop will still retain 90% of its charge after 6 months and 85% after one year.

The Eneloop also has another rare feature allowing it to work in sub-zero climates, (thus the minus 5 bar connection). When in the bar Sanyo had digital cameras available to use with the Eneloop rechargeables which worked perfectly. Other selling points for the Eneloop are that it can be charged 1000 times and it holds about 4 times more charge than your average disposable battery.

The thing I learned the most from this event wasn't about battery technology at all. It was Ian Keirnans contribution that blew away most of the crowd. He horrified us all with figures detailing how many disposable batteries are thrown away each year. In Australia, 8000 tones of batteries are thrown away each year and end up in landfills. Sanyo have made a commitment to make their company more environmentally friendly. By July next year they have committed to making all their packaging both recyclable and made from recycled materials. The first of these products is the Eneloop.

While I thought that a battery launch would be about as fun as watching Torvill & Dean's Dancing On Ice, it actually turned out to be quite educational and the product itself was much cooler than you would think. No pun intended.


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