Are You Recycling Your Batteries?
When you think of recycling, what comes to mind? Aluminum cans in big black bags? Newspapers and magazines neatly stacked in a bin, ready for collection? Maybe you think of a stack of used plastic, ready to be shredded and turned into something else? What you may not think of, though, are batteries. In fact, most of us just pull out those dead soldiers and toss them in the trash when our TV remotes, flashlights, and other gadgets need replacements. While that isn't illegal (unless you live in California), it's far from a green way to live. Especially since batteries are completely recyclable, in today's day and age.
How To Recycle Your Batteries
Recycling your used batteries is fairly easy, according to Earth 911. For example, if there is a big green box in your area, likely in the entrance of your local tech store or big box chains like Best Buy or Wal-Mart, you can just take your single-use batteries and drop them in before you shop. No muss, no fuss, and it takes a minimum amount of effort on your part.
That is far from the only option, of course. County and city governments will have their own standards, but typically they will host hazardous waste collection drives on a regular basis. All you have to do is contact your local government, and ask when the next drive is going to be. Then you'll know where to take your batteries (single-use as well as bigger units like old car batteries) to make sure they're properly handled. Additionally, most local governments have smaller collection centers that are open year round, which allow you to simply bag up your batteries, and toss them inside, knowing that they won't be cluttering up a landfill, or causing any undue environmental damage.
Do We Really Need To Recycle Batteries?
There are some solid waste departments who don't consider alkaline batteries worth the time and effort to recycle. If you call and ask about a recycling program, you'll simply be told to toss them in the trash along with everything else you have that can't be recycled. On the one hand, this is perfectly safe with today's batteries, ever since the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Act passed back in the year 1996. That act phased out the mercury content in alkaline batteries, which was the major threat they posed to the environment if they were dumped in landfills.
However, just because we can throw something into a landfill, that doesn't mean we should.
Alkaline batteries are completely recyclable, and what's more, they can be recycled cheaply and efficiently. The batteries have a steel casing, and they contain elements like zinc and manganese which can be stripped out and reused in new products. And, while it's true that alkaline batteries are quite small, the sheer number of them that are used and thrown away is huge. Tons of these batteries are thrown away, and that means there are also tons of recyclable materials that we're just tossing into our landfills, instead of turning them into something new.
When it comes to recycling, every little bit helps. If every person in America could keep a dozen pounds of batteries out of a landfill every year, just by taking responsibility for the amount of AA and AAA batteries they go through, then that will have a huge impact. Because that's how recycling works; the more people who do it, the bigger the sum of all the material will be when everything is said and done.
And, of course, it will mean that the next generation of batteries can be made directly from the remnants of the old.