Stop! Recycle Those Old Batteries!

When I returned home from work last night, I discovered my wife, Gina the Gorgeous, happily working on our Christmas decorations. As part of this extravaganza, Gina was activating some battery-powered garlands festooned with LEDs that she was planning on draping around our front door (well, if the truth be told, she was planning on having yours truly drape these little rascals around our front door).

I don't know how Gina found these garlands in our loft (I thought I'd hidden them better than that). I was also somewhat surprised to discover that she had located and ravaged my emergency supply of D-type batteries — the ones intended for lanterns and radios in the case of a power outage (fortunately I have a super-secret reserve emergency supply of batteries that Gina doesn't know about — at least I don't think she does — plus I now have my precious my trusty emergency generator).

The thing was that Gina ended up surrounded by a bunch of old D-type cells from the last time we used these garlands. A lot of people simply discard their old batteries in the trash, but this is an incredibly bad idea (it's also illegal in most places). It's hard to pin this sort of thing down, but if you perform a quick Google search while no one is looking, you will find estimates of around 3 billion batteries being discarded in the United States each year. Many of these little scamps find their way into landfills or incinerators, thereby releasing all sorts of unpleasant substances — including mercury, lead, cadmium, nickel, and other metals — into the environment.

The problem is that a lot of people simply don't know where to take their old batteries. Also, most people are inherently lazy and incredibly busy and don't feel they have the time to deal with things appropriately. The end result is that — even though people may know that it's wrong and feel bad about it — they often discard their old batteries in the trash.

This is sad, because there are lots of places for you to take your old batteries. For example, Call2Recycle is a non-profit organization that collects and recycles batteries at no cost for municipalities, businesses, and consumers. I just checked online, and they have 12 locations close to me, including Lowes, Home Depot, and Radio Shack. I typically drop my old batteries off at my local Batteries Plus Bulbs store. These stores, which are located all over the place, boast that they can supply more than 45,000 different types of batteries and light bulbs for all one's personal, business, and commercial needs. (My local store is located at 6290 University Drive, NW, Huntsville, Ala. If you happen to live around here, feel free to drop in and say “Hi” to them.)

Having said all of this, we all know that there are still going to be people who cannot be bothered to take their old batteries to a recycling facility. They may shrug their shoulders and grimace a little, but they will still toss their old batteries into the trash. What we need to do is make things easy for them to do the right thing.

When I came into my office this morning, for example, I stuck a “Battery Recycling Station” sign on a cardboard box, which I then placed next to the coffee machine in the kitchen. Just to get the ball rolling (and to make sure everyone got the idea), I pre-populated the box with the old D-type cells from our Christmas garlands.

Whenever this box starts to fill up, I'll empty it into a carrier bag and transport all of the batteries down to my local Batteries Plus Bulbs store for recycling.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EETimes.

10 comments on “Stop! Recycle Those Old Batteries!

  1. Adeniji Kayode
    December 13, 2014

    Nice article, what I found new here is not the recycling but the mindfulness to get your old battery recycled.

  2. _hm
    December 13, 2014

    In general, USA lags far behind in recycling concept – say as compare to Germany. I would say two decades or so and not sure but the lag is growing. It is not only battery or dry cell but so many other things, for example oil and many more.

    USA needs to work very hard – education, home culture, city by-laws and much more.

    But this is very good effort.


  3. _hm
    December 13, 2014

    Keep them in poly bag or zip bag. Keep big poly bag inside cardboard box so old leakage, poisonous substance, does not touch other surface or kids and pets. May employ disposable gloves, when handling very old battery.

    Alos, like in picture, do not keep them near coffee maker and food items. Keep them desgnated area.


  4. SunitaT
    December 14, 2014

    @hm: Batteries should be properly disposed if the proper recycling is not available. Most people don't follow these instructions and they even let batteries get in contact with water.

  5. SunitaT
    December 14, 2014

    “In general, USA lags far behind in recycling concept – say as compare to Germany. I would say two decades or so and not sure but the lag is growing. It is not only battery or dry cell but so many other things, for example oil and many more.

    USA needs to work very hard – education, home culture, city by-laws and much more.

    But this is very good effort.”

    Actually most of the developed countries are the actual sources of all kinds of pollution and they must take all kinds of disposal methods and carrying these out needs proper education among the masses. America is ignorant because the masses are ignorant.

  6. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    December 15, 2014

    The US is behind, but we are doing better. In my neighborhood, you can now put a bag of used batters on the top of the recylcing can–and it will get taken to the recyling center. I also see more outlets that take used batteries. The key to success is making it both easy and clear to end users about the process. People want to do the right thing, but they won't spend hours researching how to do it. It has to be easy adn clear.

  7. _hm
    December 16, 2014

    @Hailey: Your local municipal or other similar local authority should yearly send you detail printed literature for how to recylcle all diferent materials. Also, for searching, easy way is to search on local municipal authority web site for recycling requirement.

  8. t.alex
    December 27, 2014

    The fact is we don't get educated about reclying batteries enough on the media or at school or at work.

    In the future we will get energy from solar power, batteries, and some other green source of energy. It's important to understand the process so we can help companies collecting these old batteries and recycle them.

  9. AirAndWaterSystems
    January 12, 2015

    I remember a teacher telling me about having a student in class when suddenly her purse started smoking very intensely and almost caught on fire. They figured out it was because of some old batteries she had put in her purse months ago! Seriously. Recycle your batteries! 

  10. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    January 13, 2015

    AirandWaterSystems, it sounds like the battle cry is not just “Recycle your batteries!” but “Recycle your batteries and be quick about it!” 🙂 That is a scary real-world tale!

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