How to dispose of batteries in an environment friendly way

How to dispose of batteries in an environment friendly way

Nowadays, when the environment safety is important as it never was before, there are many factors that must be taken in mind if we want to make as less harm as possible to the mother earth.  One of the ways of being environment friendly, is to know how to dispose of batteries properly.

Probably we all are guilty for using a lot of non-rechargeable batteries for our home devices – flashlights, wall clocks, toys, power tools. Maybe even too much in terms of being eco-friendly.

According to the statistics, nearly 3 billion of batteries are being bought every year in the US.

As you can see, this is tremendous number. Imagine if all these batteries were thrown away in an improper way. It might poison our lakes, forests, imagine how it could affect nature, environment where we do spend our free time.

We all are responsible for making sure this won’t happen. Undoubtedly, the best choice to is to use environmentally friendly rechargeable batteries.

However, it is understandable that using these batteries is not always appropriate – I mean how often battery of your wall clock discharges? On the other hand, batteries can be reused for other devices. Well, this is up to you, using regular non-rechargeable, alkaline batteries, might be a cheap and convenient option as these batteries can be bought nearly everywhere.

Even though it is absolutely up to you what batteries you are using, your duty is to make sure the discharged batteries were disposed of properly.  Every person must know how to dispose of household batteries.

How should you dispose of batteries?

Most of the batteries can be recycled. So, it is a good idea to recycle them as every little matter.

There are few reasons why batteries shouldn’t be thrown away as a domestic garbage:

  • It contains hazardous metals and toxic materials, it might result in soil contamination and water pollution. And we all don’t want it to happen.
  • When it is thrown away as a domestic waste, it might result in a fire because battery can spark and set on fire dumpster. Even if you think that battery that lost its power can’t spark, that is not true. Only a little spark might result in a fire.
  • When you are throwing away your batteries as a domestic waste, it is not being recycled. Resources that might be reused, are being thrown away. What a waste!

Wait, but I heard that it is safe to get rid of the batteries as a domestic waste!

When talking about regular alkaline batteries, that is partly true. Famous battery manufacturer Duracell states that it is safe to dispose of their batteries as a household waste.  Many know battery manufacturers assures the same. There is no risk related to the non-rechargeable alkaline batteries as it doesn’t contain harmful materials such as mercury, which is not being used by the manufacturers since 1990s.

If we are talking about regular alkaline batteries (for example AA or AAA size) that are made by a reputable battery manufacturer, they shouldn’t contain harmful materials.

There isn’t much information about cheap, no name batteries, so it might be possible that these batteries aren’t completely safe and that it can have a negative impact to the environment. Make sure you are buying high quality batteries from a reliable manfoufacturer.

Button cell batteries does contain harmful material mercury.  It is being used to prevent batteries from corroding and leaking.

Fortunately, button cell batteries are the only ones that have mercury, and usage of mercury in other types of batteries is banned in the U.S.

You shouldn’t keep all your used batteries in the same place

As you might know, some types of batteries (ahhm…. lithium) could leak, overheat or explode. Because li-ion batteries can explode, you should take safety precautions as keeping all your batteries in the same place might be a serious safety concern.

Imagine you are putting all your batteries to the same box and leaving the box with used batteries on sun. One of the batteries was li-ion which overheats and explodes. Of course, this situation in normal circumstances might not even happen, but just imagine what were the consequences of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDq8jGXl78k

According to the recommendations, you should keep all your used batteries in a clear plastic bag. All the batteries, but especially lithium (li-ion) batteries must be taped over the ends of the battery. Make sure all li-ion batteries have their ends covered, because it might result in a fire if in contact with other batteries.

How to dispose of lead acid batteries

These batteries cannot be thrown as a household trash. Because it contains lead and acid, it makes them harmful to the environment.

It also cannot go into the electronics recycle bins as well, because it might also be very dangerous.

Great news is that there are many facilities where you can leave your lead acid car batteries. You can choose the one that is most convenient for you here.

Most of the scrap metal merchants will accept lead acid batteries as the batteries contain valuable materials. About 90 % of the substances found in lead acid batteries can be recycled.

You can always leave lead-acid battery at the hazardous waste collection site.

Also, most of the states has law that requires retailer selling lead-acid batteries to collect old used batteries.

What happens when you leave your car battery at the recycler? Usually batteries are being crushed into nickel-sized pieces and reused to produce new batteries. According to the sources, new battery that was just bought from a retailer contains from 60 to 80 percent of recycled lead and plastic.

And the acid that is in the battery is being neutralized by the reclaimer.

As you can see there are many advantages of recycling the lead-acid batteries. Make sure you recycle them instead of keeping used car batteries in your garage for years. The only proper way of how to dispose of batteries is to bring them to the recycler.

How to dispose of laptop batteries

In most of the cases if your device has a rechargeable battery, it will be lithium battery. Smartphones, laptops, cameras, tablets – they all are powered by li-ion batteries.

Throwing away lithium batteries is not a smart idea for a few reasons.

First one is that it is not safe to do so. Dumping your batteries to the Li-ion battery can spark and set other waste on fire, the only equitable choice is to recycle or donate them. You must know how to dispose of lithium batteries if you want to do so.

Second reason is that you are basically throwing away useful resources that might be reused. That is an environmental problem because consumption of the portable electric power resources is high as it never was before in the history. Billions of batteries are being manufactured every year.

Like with other types of batteries such as NiMH or rechargeable alkalines, you can leave them at the recycling facility.

You can always donate it to the electronics retailer – most of them do accept used batteries.

How to dispose of alkaline batteries

As I already mentioned, most of the alkaline batteries can be thrown away as a domestic waste (but I am talking here only about non rechargeable batteries).

Being one of the most popular types of batteries, it is also the one which can be disposed of easily. There are plenty of places where you can leave your alkaline batteries – probably you have one bin in your office.

Local electronic retailer, community center, recycling center – you can always leave your used batteries there.

Even though it is completely up to you if you recycle your alkaline batteries or just throw it away as a domestic waste, keep in mind that you should always think about the environment

There are also states that considers alkaline batteries as a harmful material, so you should check laws of your state to answer the question can alkaline batteries be thrown to trash.

How to dispose of rechargeable batteries

You have electronics recycle bin in your workplace? Great! You can leave your rechargeable batteries here. You can dispose of rechargeable batteries the same way like with the other types of batteries.

As the rechargeable batteries are intended to last a few hundred recharging cycles, in most of the cases it can be reconditioned. If your batteries are really dead, only then it is wise to get rid of them.

However, when we are talking about rechargeable batteries, there is a one thing you should not do – throw it as a waste. They are not the same as alkaline batteries, throwing it away with a domestic waste is not wise.

These batteries do contain hazard materials that makes negative impact to the environment. Rechargeable batteries contain nickel cadmium – a material that is harmful to the soil and water. You don’t want it to reach environment.

Make sure you dispose of these batteries by delivering it to the recycling facilities, recycling them in special recycling bins. If there is no recycling facility near you, you can put your batteries to the transparent plastic bag and leave it on your garbage container.

Keep in mind that you should tape both sides of the battery (contacts) to reduce potential risk.

How to dispose of leaked batteries

This one is a little bit tricky – materials of the battery are already exposed. However, this usually happens with the alkaline batteries, so the simple answer is this – just throw it as a domestic waste. Here are few tips how to clean the area where battery leaked:

  1. Use latex gloves to carefully remove battery from the device.
  2. Use a toothbrush to clean the area that is covered in white material.
  3. To prevent the corrosion, use vinegar and clean the surface where the battery leaked.
  4. Wipe surface with the dry cloth to remove all the leftovers.

Tips that will help you to save some money

And for the end, there are few tips that might save not only a few bucks for you, but also will keep the environment greener:

  • Use rechargeable batteries where it is possible. You can easily recharge them and comparing to the non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, you can recharge them hundreds of times. This is a huge saver of money, imagine buying 400 packs of batteries instead of using rechargeable ones.
  • Don’t keep used car batteries in your garage – not only the acid that is in battery is dangerous but the battery itself can be recycled. Deliver it to the recycling facility and materials from battery will be reused to make a new one.
  • Don’t leave your batteries fully discharged – it will serve you much shorter. This is true while talking about all types of batteries.

Stay environment friendly!

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