Regular readers of our blog know where we stand on recycling batteries. We belive it is important to recycle all batteries, regardless of type. But we are not the only ones. Consumer Reports, the organization that has been looking out for the consumer's best interests since 1936, recently published an excellent post describing why battery recycling is so important.
Rather than steal Consumer Reports' thunder, we will simply highlight five of the reasons they give for battery recycling. As you read them, bear in mind that Pale Blue Earth now offers USB-C rechargeable batteries in all the most popular form factors. They can be recycled at any collection center that accepts lithium-ion batteries. Our website has some reference resources for you to find the most convenient locations for you to recycle your batteries.
1. Toxic Chemicals
Consumer Reports' first reason for recycling is found in the toxic chemicals that batteries contain. From nickel to cadmium and lithium, none of these chemicals belongs in a landfill. That is exactly what happens when we throw batteries in the trash can. It’s better for us to avoid putting any batteries into the trash, be they alkaline, NiMH, NiCad, or Li-ion.
As Consumer Reports points out, toxic chemicals can leak from old batteries. Those same chemicals can contaminate the soil and any surrounding water. Ultimately, they could make their way into the food supply.
2. Short Circuits and Fires
Next up, Consumer Reports explains that old batteries thrown in the trash can pose a risk of short circuiting and causing a fire. Even without short circuiting, old batteries exposed high temperatures can cause problems if they overheat. Though this may not seem like a concern with batteries that have no life left in them, this is not always true. Batteries still have some residual charge even when they no longer hold enough electricity to work. Short circuits and overheating are legitimate risks.
3. Legal Questions
The third reason on Consumer Reports' list has to do with legal questions. They say that it is illegal in some places to throw any type of battery in the trash. To be clear, this sort of thing is usually left up to the states and the local municipalities within them. The only way to know the legal status of spent batteries where you live is to check with local authorities. At any rate, throwing batteries in the trash may or may not be legal where you live.
4. Environmental Responsibility
Reason number four is environmental responsibility. Most of the toxic chemicals found inside batteries can be reused to one extent or another. By recycling your batteries, you are contributing to the effort to stop using so many resources so quickly. Every bit of recovered material is material that does not have to come out of the Earth.
Recovering battery chemicals is like recovering waste paper. Every piece of paper that gets recycled represents less natural material required to make new paper. Batteries work the same way. The recycling industry admittedly needs to continue innovating to ensure cost and resource efficiency improves and we trust that these improvements will make recycling an ever better option for consumers, municipalities, and businesses alike.
5. It is Easy to Do
Finally, the fifth reason to recycle your batteries is the fact that doing so is easy. Nearly every city in America has at least one battery collection point. Most have dozens. If you want to know the closest collection point to you, check out the free tool on the Call2Recycle website. You just enter your zip code to find the closest collection center.
We have long advocated for recycling batteries of all types. If you have purchased USB rechargeable batteries from Pale Blue Earth, we encourage you to recycle them at end of life. Doing so helps us further our goal of keeping batteries out of landfills – and it is the right thing to do.