Those of us who believe in the benefits of recycling are happy to take a few extra steps to do so as often as possible. Not everyone feels that way. Thus, there has been a concerted effort over the last several years to make battery recycling as easy as possible. Those efforts have paid off, and recycling batteries is not as hard as it used to be.
Nearly every battery in the world can be recycled in one way or another. In many cases though, it comes down to cost. There are those batteries that cost more to recycle than to dispose of, making it difficult to find organizations willing to do it. That notwithstanding, we encourage our customers to recycle as often as they can. And not just batteries, either. We should be recycling all sorts of materials ranging from plastics to paper products and motor oil.
Recycling Single-Use Batteries
Disposable alkaline batteries, what we normally call single-use batteries in our industry, make up the lion's share of battery waste. The world disposes of billions of single-use batteries every year. All those batteries can be recycled. They contain some precious metals and other components that can be recovered.
Before moving on from this point we want to clarify something. It is commonly believed that throwing single-use batteries in the trash is illegal. It is not illegal anywhere in the U.S. with the exception of California. The Golden State is the only state that has outlawed the practice.
Throwing away single-use batteries was much more of a concern prior to 1996 legislation that outlawed the use of mercury in such batteries. Now that mercury is no longer used, single use batteries are not nearly as harmful to the environment. Yet that doesn't mean they cannot, or should not, be recycled.
Hazardous Waste Collection
Perhaps the easiest way to recycle batteries – be they alkaline, lithium-ion, or any other form – is to take advantage of your local hazardous waste collection. Most counties collect hazardous waste at least a few times a year. So do the majority of large municipalities. You can find your local hazardous waste collection schedule on your county or city website. If you cannot find the information, a simple phone call will do the trick.
Retail Collection Points
Another option for recycling batteries is to look for a retail collection point. Maybe your local electronics store has drop boxes near entrances and exits. Your local hardware store might participate in the Big Green Box program. The point is that growing numbers of retailers are getting in on the recycling game. They are providing drop boxes for alkaline, lithium-ion, NiCad, and NIMH batteries.
Break the Recycling Cycle
We have one final suggestion: break the recycling cycle. By that we mean bringing an end to the need to recycle single-use batteries by no longer purchasing them. Purchase rechargeable lithium-ion batteries instead.
Bear in mind that one of our USB rechargeable batteries can be charged up to 1000 times. Imagine how many single-use alkaline batteries you will not purchase for every rechargeable battery you do purchase. You will spend a lot less time worrying about recycling simply because your batteries last longer. When it does come time to recycle spent lithium-ion batteries, the option will still be there.
Recycling batteries is not as hard as it used to be, which is obviously a good thing. Now we have to do something about it. Before you throw anymore batteries into the trash, ask yourself of it would be better to make the effort to recycle them.