A battery is used to power a number of devices that are used in daily life. You find them in laptops, cell phones, flashlights, hearing aids, iPods, and many other devices. They are becoming popular and their use is on the rise. However, they must be disposed of properly after they are dead as they may prove to be dangerous for the environment. This Buzzle article tells you about the safe disposal of batteries.
Currently, recycling rechargeable batteries is not encouraged because of the cost and complexity involved, and the low yield.
Batteries are devices containing electrochemical cells that convert chemical energy into electrical energy. In each cell, there is a cathode (positive electrode) and an anode (negative electrode). The ions flow between the electrodes through the electrolyte, thereby generating electricity. The performance of the battery depends upon the materials used for the anode and cathode. They are used in a number of portable and non-portable devices like computers, laptops, cell phones, cameras, power tools, torches, lamps, golf carts, smart cars, and others. There are various types of batteries like alkaline battery, atomic battery, lithium battery, lithium-ion battery, mercury battery, nickel-cadmium battery, lead-acid battery and many more.
With every recharge and discharge or when overcharged or subjected to a high current or temperature, batteries wear or age. A point comes when they are rendered unusable and dead, and they stop working. They should not be recharged at this point, but disposed or recycled. Some batteries are considered safe for the environment while others are extremely hazardous. However, it is wise to dispose of any kind of battery in a proper way as their chemicals should not be allowed to enter into a landfill.
Tips for Battery Disposal
➠ Collect all the batteries to be disposed of.
➠ The batteries should be in a discharged condition prior to their disposal.
➠ They must be securely packaged and given for transportation to avoid short circuits and heat generation. Place the batteries inside separate or individual plastic bags before going to the drop-off site. Other than using plastic bags, you can tape the ends of the batteries with an electrical tape, masking tape, or a non-metallic tape.
➠ Check the Yellow Pages for specialist service providers or collection sites that can provide safe recycling and disposal services of large volumes of batteries. You can also search online and find the nearest disposal or recycling center.
➠ The Home Depot, OfficeMax, Black and Decker, De Walt, AT&T, Office Depot and Verizon Wireless are some examples of sites where batteries are disposed of and recycled. Once you have chosen a service provider, contact the place to which you plan to take your batteries. Make sure that they collect batteries. Inquire anything else you might need to know.
➠ There are many battery recycling service centers that you can contact. They will provide you with a battery recycling container or box. You can place the box in a prominent area nearby and encourage others to fill the container with their used batteries. Make a call to the service provider once the container is full. There would be a small charge to cover collection and recycling costs.
➠ Check in a hardware shop or one that sells gadgets. They will know of a proper disposal site for electronic waste in your locality.
➠ Significant volumes of batteries are considered safe for incinerators and landfills. A small number of batteries for disposal are not accepted. However, incineration must be done by an established and permitted waste treatment company that handles batteries.
➠ Mostly, batteries containing hazardous lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, mercuric oxide, or other toxic elements should be given to a recycling center or a household hazardous waste site.
➠ For disposal at home, there are stores that provide free recycling of rechargeable batteries. In case one is not available in your area, dispose of these batteries in your regular trash. However, make sure that they are not hazardous in any way, and also confirm with your local laws to ensure that this is acceptable.
➠ When carrying batteries in a pocket, purse, or other containers, avoid mixing them with metallic objects like keys, paper clips, or coins. This is to prevent short circuits.
➠ Always store batteries in a dry place at room temperature.
➠ Batteries containing toxic heavy metals like cadmium, nickel, mercury, lead, and other dangerous elements should never be disposed of by throwing them in the regular trash can. This will seriously harm the environment.
➠ Do not carry used batteries with other batteries.
➠ Avoid disposing of a battery in fire or water.
➠ Always keep damaged or dead batteries out of the reach of children.
➠ Avoid subjecting the battery to shock or vibration.
➠ Avoid touching used batteries without protection. Also a battery pack with leaking fluids should not be handled with bare hands and must be disposed of properly.
➠ Do not store used batteries near chemicals, food or heat sources like light, exposed to the sun, or near the oven. This is to avoid explosion. Also, do not store them in large numbers near residential areas.
➠ Avoid disassembling, crushing, or piercing a battery.
➠ Avoid storing used batteries longer than about six months. They should be carried to recycling centers regularly.
The regulations and policies concerning recycling and disposal of batteries are different from one country to another and vary with every state and local government. Some countries do not allow disposal of electronic waste in standard waste containers. For example, the European government has imposed more stringent regulations on the disposal of rechargeable batteries than the USA. It is advisable to check and follow the regulations prior to disposing of any battery.