Batteries: To recycle or not to recycle, that is the question

Day 49 – There was a time when throwing out your alkaline batteries was a very bad choice for the environment. Many helped keep them out of the landfill, by collecting them and disposing of them properly. You could drop batteries off at your local Walgreens and various other stores. Today, you are instructed to dispose of your single use batteries in the trash. The only state that does not allow this type of disposal is California. So, what does California know that the rest of us do not?

The Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996 prohibited the use of mercury in all types of batteries. Ever since the creation of the law, your average household battery has become very difficult to recycle. It has become a common practice to throw away our single use alkaline batteries. The EPA estimates that Americans throw away 3 billion batteries a year. Why recycle? All the materials in batteries can be used to make other products (such as new batteries). And, making batteries without recycled materials means mining and refining to get new metals, both of which have a negative environmental impact.

So, the answer to the question, “Should I recycle my household batteries, even though they no longer contain extremely harmful metals?” is YES! Here are some suggestions on how to recycle your single use batteries.

Single Use Batteries – AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, and all your smaller batteries found in things like watches, hearing aids, etc.

  1. Batteries Plus Bulbs will recycle pretty much every type of battery, including single use batteries. They will also recycle light bulbs. They charge $1.8 per pound to recycle alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9volt).
  2. You can check the Earth911 recycling locator to find the nearest alkaline battery recycling location.
  3. Various take back programs exist. Though, these programs have fees. The Little Green Box is a low cost option.
As pictured on Amazon.

Your best option, when it comes to batteries is to purchase rechargeable batteries. Not only can you reuse them countless times, but recycling them is extremely easy. I purchased the Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable battery kit.

Rechargeable Batteries – Commonly found in power tools, cordless phones, laptops, and cameras.

  1. Call2Recycle has partnered with numerous stores to collect your rechargeable batteries. Click HERE to see which stores near you will take your rechargeable batteries. If you’re in Chicago, Home Depot or Lowes are the places to go.
  2. When batteries are recycled at various processors, valuable metals can be recovered and used into new products such as silverware, pots and pans, new batteries, and even golf clubs.

On this National Battery Day make the decision to switch to rechargeable and be sure to recycle all your batteries, single use and rechargeable.

Tomorrow, collecting for a cause I learned about on the SCARCE website.

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