The Ultimate Guide to Recycling Batteries in 2018
The Ultimate Guide to Recycling Batteries in 2022
The Shady History of Recycling Batteries
I have a confession to make. I grew up throwing out batteries! I never thought twice about it either! I certainly didn't lose any sleep over it. Maybe I should have spent more time watching eco friendly shows like Captain Planet. That may have helped but I doubt it.
It wasn't that I didn't care about the environment. I did care. I grew up in a very outdoorsy family and was taught to respect the outdoors. We never littered, and I even remember times we would pick up other peoples' cigarette butts at campsites.
Why should recycling batteries be any different? The truth is, way back in the 70's and 80's it was not exactly common practice to recycle batteries. At least that was the case where I'm from. There was never an easy recycling solution or sufficient training on what to do with batteries.
That is why I'm writing this guide today. I believe there are still many families who throw batteries away due to lack of information.These families aren't purposely hurting the environment, they're just doing what they've always done without even knowing there are other options.
Why Should I Recycle Batteries?
By now you may have gathered that batteries aren't exactly good for the environment, but do you know why? Batteries contain toxic materials that vary depending on their type and use.
Just to name a few:
These toxic materials can cause damage to the environment and human health.
Batteries Effect on the Environment
If not disposed of correctly, batteries pose a long lasting threat to the environment. How this usually happens is very typical and common. When thrown in the trash, batteries end up in a landfill.
Over time their casings corrode and the toxic materials leach into the soil. The toxic material is spread by ground water and contaminates more plants, soil and water sources. Traces can even end up in our water supply.
If the landfill incinerates them as part of the general trash, they cause air pollution that hurts the ozone and contributes to acid rain in some cases.
Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries (NiMH) are toxic to plants when their contents leak from their casings into the soil. Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) Batteries are banned from landfills due to the highly toxic cadmium.
Batteries Effect on Our Health
Battery University has a wealth of information on battery health concerns as well as other info about batteries.
Lead contamination affects young children the most. More than 3/4 of global lead consumption is for the manufacture of lead-acid batteries for the automotive industry. Contamination from lead has been found to affect the brain and the nervous system in children.
Lead contaminates by entering the blood stream. It is then distributed to the brain, kidneys, liver, bones and nervous system. Lead causes high blood pressure and kidney damage to adults.High exposure to pregnant women causes miscarriages, still birth and birth defects.
Cadmium is more harmful than lead if it is ingested. It is absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream and causes kidney damage.
Lead-Acid batteries have a couple of different hazards. The sulfuric acid is highly corrosive and very dangerous if it comes in contact with any skin or other parts of the body.
When discharging the lead-acid batteries can cause hydrogen-sulfide (H2S) gas. This carries a "rotten egg" smell. H2S is especially dangerous as it is heavier than air and will not always dissipate in open environments. H2S is very dangerous and can kill.
Household Battery Storage Recommendations
Not everyone has the time to run to a recycling facility every time the batteries die on their remote control. This causes most people to throw them in the trash due to lack of having a proper storage container.
One really great solution to this problem is the "Big Green Box."
This program makes battery recycling a piece of cake. You basically fill the box up with spent batteries and ship them (at no extra charge) to their EPA Certified Facility. We strongly recommend this option due to its ease of use. You can find The Big Green Box on Amazon here.
Another really cool option is the "Eco Battery Bin."
This container has a built in voltage tester in its lid. This container will need to be brought in to a recycling facility. For most people there is one locally available so it is not that big of an issue. You can find the Eco Battery Bin on Amazon here.
***Please remember to tape the ends of your batteries before placing them in a container. Even with a minimal charge remaining they pose a threat of electric shock, excessive heat and potential fire.***
Where to Recycle Batteries
There are many facilities offering recycled battery drop off programs. As we mentioned earlier, there are mail-in program options as well. Earth911.com has a really great drop off destination locator here. In this really cool tool, you enter your zipcode and are shown the closest available drop off locations.
You can also check with your local Lowe's or Home Depot. Many of these stores have drop off locations.
The Better Solution to Single-Use Disposable Batteries
You probably guessed that I was going to suggest rechargeable batteries. Your guess was spot on! Your average rechargeable battery is good for several dozen uses. That sure beats a single use. Just think how many disposable batteries would be kept out of landfills if more people used rechargeables.
The Wire Cutter has an excellent guide on choosing the best rechargeable batteries here.
If this guide informed even a few people to make better decisions in regards to battery usage and recycling than it was worth it. At bestdealremotes.com we sell remote controls that have been rescued from landfill and are refurbished. The volume of disposable batteries we take in inspired me to write this post. We recycle or reuse 100% of these batteries. Hopefully I have encouraged more to do the same. This way I can say I have redeemed myself!