Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: What To Do With Old Batteries

Nov 28, 2014 | Recycling

Battery recycling might not be at the top of everyone’s list but it certainly should be. On average, every household in the United States has a minimum of least 10 batteries lurking in every corner. At least 8 of these batteries are thrown out on a yearly basis. This may not sound like much but if you consider the fact that this leads to around 3 billion dry cell batteries being purchased around the country every year, it makes sense that some form of reusing or recycling needs to take place.

Why Battery Recycling Reduces your Carbon Footprint

Most household batteries contain a combination of heavy metals including mercury, cadmium, lead, lithium, zinc, nickel, and silver. Disposing of batteries improperly means that there is a high risk of these metals seeping into the earth and into local water supplies. Studies show that household batteries are the top contributors of mercury and cadmium in solid waste disposal.

Many people are unaware of the damage that these heavy metals can cause not only to the environment but to the health of any people who are exposed to them. Long term exposure to mercury can cause irreversible damage to the brain or kidneys and can also affect the development of fetuses while they are still in the womb. Cadmium has been linked to damage of the lungs, reproductive organs and circulatory system. A wide variety of health problems can be caused by long term exposure to any of the above-mentioned heavy metals, with cancer as one of the major diseases on the list.

How to Go About Battery Recycling and Reducing their Overall Use

Before dashing out to buy new batteries at every turn, take the time to check if you have any spares lying around the house. Devices not in use do not need to have batteries installed, so it may be a good idea to simply move unused batteries from one device to another. If possible, try to find solar powered devices instead of battery operate ones. If the device in question does not come in a solar powered alternative, consider using rechargeable batteries instead.

In an attempt to dispose of batteries, one should never dump them in landfills or incinerate them. Incineration very often leads to dangerous explosions which not are not only an immediate threat to anyone nearby, but they also contribute to environmental damage.

Battery recycling is best achieved by dropping off the cells at an appropriate recycling facility. The facility in question will then sort the batteries by chemistry. After this, all combustible materials are removed in order to facilitate a safe recycling process. Once this process is complete, the battery cells will be melted down into their liquid metal form. These metals are then re-used by the appropriate manufacturers wherever possible.

Battery Recycling is Effortless

Many people avoid recycling simply because they believe it to be a laborious task. Instead of simply throwing out useless batteries with the rest of the garbage, it is fairly simple to have a dedicated battery container stored somewhere within reach. Once enough of these cells are collected they can be dropped off at the nearest recycling center. All in all, battery recycling is an act that becomes habitual over time.