Earth Day Tip #5 – Dispose Of Batteries Properly

 

Its April again and with this great month comes Earth Month, Week & Earth Day.  Our founders birthday is also Earth Day so we always enjoy a fun Earth Day Birthday!  Last year we did a countdown to Earth Day with 7 Tips leading up to the 22nd, and this year we will again do a countdown.  The 5 day countdown this year will go Today – Friday and end on the Monday of Earth Day.

Our Battery Operated World

Batteries have become an integral part of our lives.  Whether disposable or rechargeable, batteries are a main component of many Earth Day Tipselectronic devices and systems that we use daily and can’t seem to do without any longer.  Cell phones, computers, hand tools, toys and for some cars.  Batteries help control power fluctuations, run commuter trains, and provide back-up power for critical needs like hospitals and military operations.  The upside of the battery is portability, but the downside of the battery is the potential environmental harm.  Battery technology often incorporates the use of a variety of toxic metals (e.g., lead, mercury, cadmium) and/or corrosive chemicals (e.g., sulfuric acid) to make batteries function.  Some battery makers like Duracell have voluntarily eliminated all of the added mercury in their batteries since the early 90’s, when laws were passed about it’s use, but  that doesn’t mean they’re totally mercury free or safe.

 

Did You Know?

  • Americans purchase nearly three billion dry cell batteries every year to power radios, toys, cellular phones, watches, laptop computers, and portable power tools.
  • Nearly 99 million lead-acid car batteries are manufactured annually.
  • Car batteries containing lead should be brought only to waste management centers (or batteries plus), where they can eventually be recycled. Because of the value of their materials, many auto retailers and service centers will “buy back” your used car batteries for recycling.
  • BestBuy, RadioShack & other electronic retailers will take your used batteries (Not car batteries)
  • Never dispose of batteries in fire because they could explode.
  • Old batteries you may find buried in the closets or elsewhere that were made before 1997—when Congress mandated a widespread mercury phase-out in batteries of all types—should most surely be recycled and not discarded with the trash, as they may contain as much as 10 times the mercury of newer versions.

 

 

Resources For Recycling Your Batteries

 

Call2Recycle

Call2Recycle® is the only free rechargeable battery and cellphone collection program in North America. Since 1996, Call2Recycle has diverted over 70 million pounds of rechargeable batteries from the solid waste stream and established a network of 30,000 public collection sites. Advancing green business practices and environmental sustainability, Call2Recycle is the most active voice promoting safe reclamation and recycling of rechargeable batteries and cellphones. In adherence to the strictest and safest recycling standards, Call2Recycle has received the Responsible Recycling (R2) certification for the management of the collection and the distribution to processors for the recycling of batteries and cellphones. Call2Recycle is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization.

How They Are Funded:

Call2Recycle is funded by product manufacturers across the globe committed to environmentally-sound recycling of rechargeable batteries and cellphones. These manufacturers place our recycling seal on their rechargeable products and batteries, informing users that they are recyclable.  To find a rechargeable battery recycling location near you, visit http://www.call2recycle.org.

 

Call 2 Recycle

 

Batteries Plus

I called Batteries Plus because they have a lot of locations and are in around 50 states, to ask them what they offer.  The gentleman I talked to said they recycle all batteries free of charge except for A, AA, AAA, C, D & 9v alkaline batteries (also called 1 time use) which they charge a small fee per pound to recycle.  You can use their website to find a store near you – Batteries Plus  Many resources online and off, tell you it’s safe to throw away these 1 time use batteries with your household trash as there is nothing really recyclable in them.  However there seems to be some conflicting recommendations about this including what Waste Management told me.  More on that coming up….

 

Batteries Plus Recycling

 

Waste Management

I called both Waste Management Headquarters in Texas as well as a local office here in Minnesota and they told me that if you throw those 1 time use batteries (A, AA, AAA, C, D, & 9v) batteries in your household garbage, they will end up in the landfill and not disposed of properly.  They went on to say that you need to put them in your recycling bin with tape over the conductors to keep them from reacting with one another.  I also found out that laws and disposal methods are different in each state, so make sure and find out through one of these resources what the most environmentally responsible option is in your state.  Don’t want the hassle?  Waste Management offers this Battery Recycling Kit for $19.99 on their website http://www.WM.com which you can put all those 1 time use batteries in & send it in once a year…..pretty reasonable.   A nice bonus is the Recycling Certificate you get to proudly display your environmental commitment.

Waste Management Recycling

 

Canadian Providers

We obviously know that this isn’t the only organization that offers recycling services & safe disposal services in Canada, but we included them because they theme many of their events and outreach around young kids.  They do this because, they’ve seen that kids have a driving influence on their parents recycling behaviors.  In 2010, Orange Drop Tour took part in 86 events throughout the province, with a combined attendance of over 4.7 million people! Check out their site here http://www.makethedrop.ca/

 

Orange Drop Battery Recycling

 

Proven cost-effective and environmentally safe recycling processes are not yet universally available for alkaline batteries. Some communities offer recycling or collection of alkaline batteries—contact your local government for disposal practices in your area.  We hope you’ll use this information to learn how to properly dispose of batteries, which like other products (plastics) still isn’t a cut and dry process.  Share & Comment below & Look for Earth Day tip #4 tomorrow!

 

 

 

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