We live in a battery-driven society. From power grids to keeping trains running to our laptops and cell phones, we run on them. Batteries used to accumulate in our house because we knew they should not be thrown in the trash, but didn’t know what to do with them. After some research, we now have some answers and are excited to share what we’ve learned with Owen’s List.
Why it shouldn’t go in the landfill
Because it affects human health and our environment. After doing some research, we learned about the toxic chemicals that can release from used batteries and how important it is to safely dispose of them once they have stopped working.
The chemicals inside a battery include cadmium, mercury, nickel, lead, and lithium. When they are thrown into landfills, the battery’s casing corrodes, which leads to chemicals leaching into the soil, making their way into the water supply. Not only does this eventually reach the ocean but these chemicals, especially lithium, react in a volatile way when exposed. Lithium specifically can cause landfill fires, burning the underground for years, releasing toxic chemicals into the air.
Cadmium and nickel are also known to be human carcinogens, and lead is linked to birth defects and can cause neurological damage. Luckily, large amounts of mercury were banned in batteries because, in vapor form, it is incredibly toxic. Essentially, by recycling batteries, you keep heavy metals out of landfills and the air. Recycling also saves resources because recovered plastic and metals can be used to make new batteries. Based on all these damaging chemicals, it is important to dispose of batteries properly so they are not exposed to the environment.
What happens when batteries get recycled
It depends on the type of battery. Some batteries like car batteries are very easy to recycle and therefore almost 90% are recycled. Other batteries are more difficult to break down into there components. The goal of recycling the batteries, however, is to reclaim the valuable chemicals used in their making like cobalt, nickel, copper, and aluminum.
Some people claim that it is safe to throw single-use alkaline batteries in the trash. While alkaline batteries contain less mercury than in the past, there are still benefits to recycling these kinds of batteries. Materials recovered from alkaline batteries mean fewer virgin materials need to be extracted. Environmental risks are also greater by throwing alkaline batteries in the trash so we are careful to always make sure these get recycled.
Other ways to reduce waste
Consider switching to batteries you can recharge at home. These are great for children’s toys that drain batteries quickly. Removing the batteries and setting them on the charger with your kids can be a great opportunity to talk to your kids about reducing their environmental footprint.
We schedule battery pickups often. Make sure you are signed up so you are the first to know when we are in your area.