Most batteries need chemicals to work. When disposed of improperly these can harm the environment and our health. In fact they can even leach into groundwater and soil, causing serious problems.
Some batteries contain heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium or nickel. Beware of old batteries in your junk drawer; these may be mercury-containing ones. “Button cell” or mercuric- and silver-oxide batteries contain a lot of acid-based components and heavy metals. Re-chargeable batteries often contain different types of heavy metals and should always be recycled when possible. Before 1996, alkaline batteries were manufactured with mercury. The EPA advises that all batteries are properly recycled not only to avoid contamination but also to promote re-use of resources.
California is the only state where it is illegal to throw any type of battery into the trash. In all other states, non-mercury alkaline batteries can be included in regular garbage, although it is not recommended.
Harvesting resources for new batteries is energy and carbon intensive. It requires digging deep into the earth and then using foundries and smelting facilities to capture the right metals and chemicals from the mined ore. Recycling batteries provides a better alternative.
Placing a small container for used batteries in your home, can help your family keep track of all your batteries, thus ensuring you get rid of them responsibly.
When you’re collection container is full, take it to your nearest responsible recycler, or participate in a simple mail-back program, such as Lampmaster.
Follow these tips and safety measures when getting rid of your batteries:
- Leave the battery intact; do not puncture or break-open the battery.
- Keep batteries away from moisture and extreme temperatures.
- NEVER burn batteries, they can explode, seriously injuring you and others.
- An extra precaution you can take: wrap a dead or expired battery in a non-conductive material (i.e. packing tape) to prevent them from touching
- If you must throw away your batteries, try to separate them between cans and bags, if they end up touching, there is a potential they will create a spark, resulting in a fire.