Battery disposal is sometimes more complicated than it needs to be. After all, there are many different kinds of batteries and it can be a challenge determining which batteries can be disposed of where.
While the average consumer might vaguely know they can’t throw every battery in the trash, their understanding probably ends there.
Luckily the process isn’t as hard as most people imagine. Keep reading and we’ll break it down for you!
Everyday Battery Disposal
The good news is that two of the most common battery types can be disposed of fairly easily, if that’s your only option. The two common types you can throw in the trash include zinc-carbon and single-use long-lasting lithium batteries.
Zinc-carbon batteries represent the most common batteries people go through. Included in this group are most AA, AAA, 9V, D, and C batteries.
Single-use long-lasting lithium batteries are used in electronic devices such as cameras. These types of batteries are for devices that draw a relatively large amount of power. They can be disposed of normally, although we will get into a better alternative shortly.
It is recommended 9V zinc-carbon batteries and all lithium batteries are taped over their terminals before disposal. This is because there is a small but real risk of short-circuiting if the terminals are able to carry a current in the trash.
Even if a battery is technically safe for disposal in the trash, you should still be mindful of basic disposal advice. Cracked or swollen batteries should be treated like potential fire hazards. Cover them into non-flammable material like kitty litter before doing anything with them.
Avoiding the Trash
Some batteries cannot be safely disposed of in the trash. The small batteries used in watches and other tiny electronics are one such example. Rechargeable batteries are another.
These batteries contain dangerous chemicals and/or metals that can poison the ground if we are not careful. Research local recycling centers or disposal sites that can take these batteries for you to help save the planet! (If that’s not enough motivation, also remember it’s illegal to just throw them in the trash.)
Recycling should always be the priority if possible. It’s better for the planet in more ways than one. Even batteries that you can throw away can often be recycled too.
See here how, for example, how lithium batteries can take on a second life. It is estimated Americans could be recycling as much as 75% of their waste. This is a real shame, as we currently only recycle an average of 30%!
Unlike many of your everyday types of batteries, automobile batteries are notoriously finicky. Heavy and capable of leaking chemicals everywhere, they should never be thrown in the trash.
It isn’t all bad news though. Many communities set up sites in which these batteries can be disposed of. Service centers also commonly can take car batteries for you, negating the hassle.
Save the Planet (And Avoid Fines)
Proper battery disposal is important. As annoying as it might be, you need to follow the correct disposal procedures.
Improper disposal is probably illegal where you live and, more importantly, can seriously harm the environment.
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