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Living Green

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Getting rid of batteries

Batteries are used to help us power our devices in homes, schools and businesses, but eventually they die out. Due to some environmental issues, some batteries can be recycled, but others need to be properly disposed of.

Batteries and toxic materials

Many types of batteries are considered household waste. Batteries may contain harmful toxic materials such as nickel cadmium, mercury, alkaline, lead acid and nickel metal hydride. Most cities have a hazardous waste pick-up or drop-off day. Even a battery that no longer works can be harmful to your health. Never put a used battery in your pocket, purses, briefcases or backpacks because they can leak or explode.

Dead batteries

Once a battery is dead, it should be removed from the device it was in. As tempting as it is, never mix old batteries with new batteries. A mix of old and new batteries will make your device run slower and the old batteries may ignite, rupture, leak and explode, causing damage to your device. If a battery explodes inside a device while you are using it, you may be harmed.

Disposing of batteries

When disposing of used batteries, it is important to keep the batteries separate in plastic bags, since they may explode or leak. Even though a battery might not be able to power a device anymore, it might still have a small bit of power left. If several batteries bang together, they can emit a charge which can cause them to ignite and possibly explode.

It is also important to know what kind of batteries your disposing because different batteries require different ways to handle them. Standard or alkaline batteries must be disposed of differently than rechargeable batteries.

Many of the regular alkaline batteries are not considered hazardous waste and can be disposed of in the normal household trash. Other batteries such as lithium, mercuric, oxide, nickel-cadmium, nickel metal hydride and silver oxide, it is best to follow your town's battery recycling guidelines. The batteries contain elements that can leak into the ground presenting a hazard to the environment.

Rechargeable batteries have hazardous waste due to their chemical materials. Rechargeable batteries must be recycled or disposed of at an approved hazardous waste site.

Dropping off old batteries

Contact your local city government waste management office to find out were to drop off old batteries. Some cities have partnered with a waste management company to set up a special drop-off location or pick-up day. Many cities have recycle boxes for batteries at the city hall or Department of Public Service. Many automotive stores and other places that sell batteries will recycle your used batteries as well.

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