Americans have used batteries for decades in a variety of products. In the eighties, environmentalists started researching the impact of disposed batteries. The results were discouraging. It was discovered that the millions of batteries put in our landfills each year had a devastating impact on on our soil, air and groundwater. As the batteries breakdown heavy metals and other toxic bi-products get into these natural resource systems and eventually make it into the body.
Mercury-Containing Battery Management Act
Once our Federal Government became aware of the negative impact of the disposal of this common household item, our congress worked on legislation to limit the impact of our environment and in 1996 they passed the Mercury-Containing Battery Management Act. Almost immediately, manufacturers started finding alternatives to Mercury in batteries. As a result of limiting Mercury in the production of batteries, they were deemed safe to dispose in our landfills.
As we are reaching a critical moment in global environmental impact, it is important to understand the actions we can personally take in preserving our natural resources. Different types of batteries contain various elements, that may be more eco-friendly than the previously manufactured Mercury batteries but they still have an impact on our environment.
The main components of the batteries manufactured today, currently having an adverse effect on our environment are: Thallium,Copper,Cobalt, Nickel, and Silver. These metals leach into the soil and water systems and eventually into the human body through our air, food and water. Currently, California is the only state with strictly mandated recycling requirements. It is important that as individuals who use batteries, we each take personal responsibility in recycling these common household items. There are several ways you can take part in this effort:
Automotive and Marine Batteries
- Check with your local auto part stores to find out which ones take used batteries.
- Check with auto repair facilities to see if they have a recycling program.
- Check with local recycling centers, specifically ones dedicated to metal recycling.
Single Use Household Batteries
- Retail Locations-Look for battery recycling drop off bins at your local retailers
- Mail-In Recycling Centers- There are many mail-in recycling center, a quick online search will give you various options
- Local Recycling Centers- Many people are surprised to learn that recycling centers, also take single use batteries
As you take steps towards protecting our natural resources and researching ways to properly recycle batteries, it is important that you ask if their are any storage or shipping requirements. It takes very little effort for you to recycle your batteries, but the positive effect on our resources and future generations is tremendous.