Where to Recycle Your Batteries
Recycling of batteries, whether non rechargeable or rechargeable, is an important step in helping preserve our environment. The average person throws out 8 batteries a year, much of the time in to the trash which ends up in our landfills. Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lean, cadmium, and nickel, which can contaminate the environment when batteries are improperly disposed of.
How Batteries Can Be Hazardous
Batteries can produce the following potential problems or hazards:
- Contain strong corrosive acids.
- Contribute to heavy metals that potentially may leach form solid waste landfills
- Expose the environment and water to lead and acid
- May cause burns or danger to eyes and skin.
- Pollute the lakes and streams as the metal vaporize into the air when burned.
In landfills, heavy metals have the potential to leach slowly into soil. groundwater or surface water. Dry cell batteries contribute about 88% of the total mercury and 50% of the cadmium in the municipal solid waste stream. In the past, batteries accounted for nearly half of the mercury used in the United State and over half of the mercury and cadmium in the municipal solid waste stream. When burned, some heavy metal such as mercury may vaporize and escape into the air, and cadmium and lead may end up in the ash.
Battery Facts & Statistics
- Americans purchase nearly 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year to power radios, toys, cellular phones, watches, laptop computers, and portable power tools.
- Inside a battery, heavy metals react with chemical electrolyte to produce the battery's power.
- Wet-cell batteries, which contain a liquid electrolyte, commonly power automobiles, boats, or motorcycles.
- Nearly 99 million wet-cell lead-acid car batteries are manufactured each year.
- A car battery contains 18 pounds of lead and one pound of sulfuric acid.
Recycling & Disposal
- Mercury was phased out of certain types of batteries in conjunction with the "Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act," passed in 1996.
- Recycling batteries keeps heavy metals out of landfills and the air. Recycling saves resources because recovered plastic and metals can be used to make new batteries.
- Household batteries contribute many potentially hazardous compounds to the municipal solid waste stream, including:
- Alkaline metals
- In 1989, 621.2 tons of household batteries were disposed of in the United States; that's double the amount discarded in 1970.
- In 1986, 138,000 tons of lead-acid batteries were disposed of in the U.S.
- Regular flashlight batteries can be disposed of in the trash (generally, some states, like California, have more restrictive rules), though it is best to take them to a recycler.
- Mercury-oxide and silver-oxide button batteries are often collected by jewelers, pharmacies, and hearing-aid stores who sell them to companies that reclaim the metals.
- In 1993, 80 to 95% of automobile batteries were recycled