How to Dispose of Batterieszs
Know your local laws when it comes to alkaline batteries. Alkaline, or manganese, batteries are used in flashlights, toys, remote controls and smoke alarms. They range in size from AAA to 9 volts. In many areas, you can dispose of them in your household trash. However, in California, it is illegal to dispose of them in the trash; instead, they go with household hazardous waste collection for special recycling. If you choose to recycle them regardless, your community likely has a location for easy drop-off, and many stores have a return-to-vendor box for batteries.
- See your local municipality for more details – many have community environment days for easy drop off/pick-up.
- 9 volt batteries (the rectangular kind) should have their posts covered with a piece of electrical tape or duct tape or masking tape (any non-conductive tape) as they are a fire hazard – ironic since they are usually used in smoke alarms.
- You can also dispose of rechargeable alkaline or nickel metal hydride batteries, carbon zinc batteries in household hazardous waste collection.
Dispose of your spent batteries properly. The Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies encourage people to bring all dead batteries to a household hazardous waste collection site or approved recycling center for battery disposal. Batteries that are casually discarded in normal trash pick-up cycles can have serious effects on the environment that include:
- Saturating landfills, eventually leaching slowly into soil and infiltrating the water table.
- Entering the atmosphere after incineration. Certain metals can enter the tissues of organisms, with deleterious effects on their health.
Take steps to use eco-friendly batteries. By making careful, considered choices, you can select batteries that have lower levels of heavy metals, reducing the environmental impact at landfills and hazardous-waste sites. Some simple steps you can take include:
- Selecting alkaline batteries when possible. Alkaline battery manufacturers have reduced the level of mercury in their products since 1984.
- Opting for silver oxide and zinc-air batteries instead of mercuric-oxide types, which contain higher levels of heavy metals.
- Using rechargeable batteries when possible. Reusable batteries help reduce the environmental impact of dozens of depleted single-use batteries, but they contain heavy metals.
- Buying hand-operated or solar-powered devices when possible.