Batteries have become a necessary staple in our everyday lives. We need them to operate our clocks, remote controls, toys, handheld video games, flashlights, appliances, and more. In fact, most of us keep a stash of batteries in our drawers or refrigerators so we won’t be caught without.
What happens when our batteries lose power?
Most people use their garbage cans and household trash bins for battery disposal, but in truth, it’s not that simple. A battery is considered hazardous waste. Even though the battery may no longer provide power, it still contains chemicals and toxins as well as the ability to cause harm if not disposed of properly. In fact, if thrown away with the household trash, batteries containing mercury can actually poison our food supply.
What follows are some simple tips for battery disposal.
- Even a battery that no longer works can be harmful. Never put a used battery, or any battery, in pockets, purses, briefcases or backpacks because they can leak or even explode. Coming in contact with other items, such as pens or nail files, can cause a battery to rupture.
- Once a battery wears out, it should be removed from the item in which it is housed. Batteries left to languish can leak and damage your equipment.
- Never mix old batteries with new batteries and never mix different types of batteries. Not only will this make them run slower, but the old batteries can leak or rupture, causing damage to not only the new batteries, but the equipment in which all the batteries were housed.
- Normal alkaline batteries can, in most cases, be thrown out with the household trash, but most environmental groups recommend that you don’t do this as the toxins found in used batteries can end up polluting the environment.
- Don’t save up large quantities of old, worn out batteries and store together or throw away at the same time. There’s a good chance some of these batteries can still have some power. If this is the case, they can recharge, possibly causing damage.
- Don’t throw batteries in the trash without checking your town’s guidelines for battery disposal since, in most cases, they must be picked up on a designated hazardous waste day.
- Never throw a car battery in the household trash. Call the place of purchase for recycling instructions. In most cases, the battery can be recycled at the same place from which it was purchased.
- Never attempt to recharge a non-rechargeable battery. To do so is to risk serious harm.
- Contact your town or city’s recycling center to find out if they have a battery recycling program. Most towns have a hazardous waste disposal day for regular batteries. Large batteries, such as a car or computer batteries, can be brought to a specific location or picked up by the recycling company.
- When bringing batteries to the hazardous waste center or putting them out for proper disposal, put them into a sturdy plastic bag or container to avoid contamination caused by leakage.
If you’re unsure of how to properly dispose of your batteries, contact your town’s carting or recycling companies or the place where the batteries were purchased. Most venues selling batteries will also take used batteries back for recycling. There are also several online companies that will accept used computers and other batteries, as well.
Most people aren’t aware of the environmental impact of tossing used batteries in the trash. In fact, most people don’t know that many cities and towns have ordinances against disposing of batteries in this way. Now that you know better, won’t you do the right thing?