It happens to all of us who use household batteries. The batteries in our currently desired item of use are now dead. Our child runs up to you with a toy that has been laying at the bottom of the toy box for the last 10 months. Now that the batteries are dead your child has decided they would like to play with it.
Either for our own pleasure or as parents wanting to keep our kids happy, we immediately hit our junk drawers in search of any battery that might work. Even when you do eventually find that mysterious land of batteries, who ever can remember which will work.
In your own mind you have now morphed into the greatest parent ever, as your child is now happily playing with their old/new toy, even if only for a whole 15 minutes.
So now, what about dead battery disposal. What to do with all those other batteries you have now gone through and checked. Those that you now know are dead. You know they are hazardous waste. You think they might be recyclable. Should you toss them in the garbage? Out of sight, out of mind right?
Batteries are hazardous waste yet people continue to toss them into the trash on a daily basis. Recycling batteries keeps heavy metals out of our landfills and preserves our precious air. Batteries contain mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, all of which are hazardous and may contaminate the environment when improperly disposed of. When incinerated, certain metals release into the air, not only contaminating it but the leftover ash also contaminates our soil and leaks into our water sources.
One environmentally friendly option is to use rechargeable batteries. This allows for buying fewer batteries, which saves money and creates less waste. However, this does not make them environmentally friendly when it comes to disposal.
Batteries are always being revamped to make them safer and gradually being replaced with newer technology. Mercury reduction in ordinary alkaline batteries began in 1984 and as of 1992 most alkaline batteries are manufactured with no mercury added, while some contain about one-tenth the amount previously contained.
However, safer batteries in no way makes it ok to dispose of batteries in your trash. Batteries currently being manufactured still contain heavy metals that can contaminate soil and electrolytes that can contaminate the groundwater.
If you are in that percentage of people who is environmentally responsible and conscientious, you already recycle your batteries or know how to. If you have no idea where or how to recycle batteries, do a search online for your nearest recycling center to educate yourself.
How do you feel about battery recycling?
Did you know that battery recycling in Europe is financed by the manufacturers?
Should battery recycling in the US be financed by the manufacturers?
How does your community deal with battery disposal?
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Published January 7, 2015.