When it comes to disposing household batteries, many people are unsure of whether or not they can be tossed in the garbage. Before 1996, household batteries contained mercury that was thought to be harmful to the environment. In fact, these older batteries contained nearly 10 times more mercury than batteries on the market today. It was then that Congress mandated that all batteries manufactured after May 13, 1996 had no added mercury, being much less hazardous to the environment.
For these reasons, batteries are not considered to be hazardous waste and can be disposed with the regular trash. Some consumers have tried disposing their AA and AAA batteries at a hazardous waste drop-off, only to be told to dispose of them in the regular trash. Yet any time anything contains even the slightest bit of mercury or other harmful chemicals, there are advocates that question the method of disposing these products. While it is considered safe to throw away batteries with your trash, there are several other ways to dispose of them that are considered to be environmentally friendly and conscientious.
Disposing of Batteries at Hazardous Waste Drop-Offs
One of the easiest ways to dispose of batteries is to simply drop them off at a hazardous waste facility. While some will not accept them, others will, so find a place that is willing to work with you. In most cases, the batteries will be sent to another facility, where they will be reused in other new batteries on the market. Also remember that if you have batteries that were manufactured before 1997, it is important to take them to a hazardous waste facility, as they contain larger amounts of mercury. While you may not think you still have batteries lying around in the house that are this old, consider old kids’ toys, electronics and small household appliances that have been packed away.
Besides bringing your AA and AAA batteries to a hazardous waste drop-off facility, you can also choose to recycle your old batteries. Earth 911 is a great resource that can help direct you to a facility that takes batteries for recycling. Besides facilities, you can also reach out to mail-order companies that accept batteries for recycling for a small fee, as well as retail stores that will take old batteries back for proper recycling. Once again, batteries made before 1997 will always need a proper disposal method.
How Can I Reduce Battery Usage?
If you’re a household that goes through plenty of batteries, such as with kids’ toys or teens’ electronics, consider using rechargeable batteries instead. These batteries last much longer than their alternatives, as they can be recharged again and again. This helps save the landfills and waste drop-offs, since rechargeable batteries are recycled on their own. They also save money in the long run because you don’t have to keep replacing the batteries. Even better, there are rechargeable batteries for just about everything, as well as fast and effective ways to charge the batteries on the spot.