Batteries seem to confuse a lot of people when it come to what to do with them at the end of their life, and it’s no wonder as there have been many changes over the years in how they are formulated and manufactured and whether or not they are considered hazardous. Here’s the skinny and some helpful resources for you to use:
There are many different kinds of batteries but we’re going to focus on two that the vast majority of us use.
Single Use Batteries: these are your basic AAA, AA, C, D, 9-volt, etc. disposable batteries that run all your flashlights, kids toys, radios and basic electronics.
Rechargeable Batteries: same drill only you can reuse them by plugging them in to a charger. Additionally, this includes rechargeable batteries for power tools, cameras, your cell phones and even batteries in your car.
The federal government classifies single use batteries as non-hazardous, however, we now know that it’s still not a good idea to toss them in the trash as they will disperse significant amounts of toxins into the ground, water and air when they are disposed of in landfills and incinerators. The problem is that you can’t just throw them into your recycling bin either as they are not accepted by regular recycling companies.
So, here’s what I suggest: keep a small bucket in your house for your batteries. Once they are dead toss them in your bucket and forget about it until the bucket is full. Once you’ve filled it up you can then make a trip to a battery recycling center and get rid of all of them in one fell swoop! To find a recycling center near you check out the following site:
http://earth911.com/recycling/hazardous/single-use-batteries/ – type in your zip code at the top of the page and hit search.
Rechargeable batteries are more critical. They contain heavy metals such as lead and nickel and are considered hazardous material, so they must be recycled and never thrown in the trash. The good news is that recycling centers for rechargeable batteries are now very common and easily accessible! For example, every Home Depot has one in their stores, same for Lowes, Radio Shack, etc… To find a rechargeable battery recycling center near you click on the following link:
http://www.call2recycle.org/ – enter your zip code in the Find a Dropoff Location box and click the arrow to search.
So while it’s never “convenient” to make a special trip to recycle hazardous or toxic waste, it is a very important step in keeping the planet healthier.
Let us know if you have a great tip for recycling your batteries by leaving a comment!
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