fcaute's blog

What About The Batteries?

posted by fcaute, Nov 5, 2006 8:00 PM — 5 comments

Laptop, walkman, digital cameras, toys, cell phone, calculator—these are just some of the things that need batteries to function in our daily lives. The U.S. EPA estimates that more than 350 million rechargeable batteries are purchased annually in the United States. Batteries are a unique product comprised of heavy metals and other elements that make things “portable”. Some of these toxic heavy metals include nickel cadmium, alkaline, mercury, nickel metal hydride and lead acid. It is these elements that can threaten our environment if not properly discarded.

Batteries may produce the following potential problems or hazards:

* Pollute the lakes and streams as the metals vaporize into the air when burned.
* Contribute to heavy metals that potentially may leach from solid waste landfills.
* Expose the environment and water to lead and acid.
* Contain strong corrosive acids.
* May cause burns or danger to eyes and skin.

In 1996, the Battery Act was signed into law to address two fundamental issues according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency: to phase out the use of mercury in batteries and to provide collection methods and recycling/proper disposal of batteries. Batteries that end up in landfills and incinerators eventually leak into the environment and end up in the food chain, causing serious health risks to humans and animals.

Not all batteries are the same and they require specific instructions to ensure each type of battery is properly discarded or recycled. The batteries consumers are more likely to use are household, nickel-cadmium (NiCd), nickel metal hydride (NiMH), button cell, automotive and non-automotive lead-based batteries.


generally single use, and are also referred to as alkaline, carbon-zinc, lithium, silver-zinc and zinc air batteries. Collection and recycling of these batteries varies by community. Check with your community recycling facilities to determine your household battery recycling options.

Alkaline Batteries:

Mercury reduction in batteries began in 1984 and continues today. Some batteries such as the alkaline battery have had about a 97 percent mercury reduction in the product. Newer alkaline batteries may contain about one-tenth the amount of mercury previously contained in the typical alkaline battery. Some alkaline batteries have zero-added mercury, and several mercury-free, heavy-duty, carbon-zinc batteries are on the market.

Because of the mercury reduction, some landfill bans of alkaline batteries and recycling programs taking them have ceased. When disposing of household alkaline batteries, it is best to check with your local and State Recycling or Household Hazardous Waste Coordinators concerning the specifics of your program.

Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd):

Generally used in rechargeable batteries. All NiCd batteries are identified by the EPA as hazardous waste and must be recycled.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Lithium-Ion:

Are commonly used in laptops. They are considered non-hazardous waste, but do contain elements that can be recycled.

Button Cell:

Commonly used in hearing aids, calculators and watches. These batteries contain silver, mercury and other elements that are hazardous to the environment.

Automotive & Sealed Lead-Based:

Sealed lead batteries should be recycled, as they contain hazardous materials and elements that can be reused.

It is because of this 1996 Battery Act that batteries are labeled with disposal information, such as, “Battery must be recycled.” This information is provided to help consumers when they dispose of batteries.

Source: [url=http://www.earth911.org/master.asp?s=lib&a=electronics/bat_env.asp]Earth 911

Comments | RSS

1. posted by _duckie, Nov 12, 2006 5:43 PM

I think this is a great post to have. There are definitely people out there who don't know the harm a battery can do, or how to properly dispose of one.

Nice post.

2. posted by Coltzero, Nov 15, 2006 2:57 PM

Good to know! Thanks.

3. posted by okton, Feb 10, 2007 11:09 PM

es tierno y de buena voluntad lo que hace con su comentario

so nice ,,,,

4. posted by harissonA, May 27, 2013 1:44 AM

Looks like it would fun to try.

5. posted by sumppump, Jun 26, 2013 12:47 AM

I completley agree. :-)

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