Household Battery Recycling- Still A Hassle

Batteries come in all shapes and sizes: large car and truck batteries, cell phone batteries, flashlight batteries and TV remotes and other household batteries.   The first two categories already have a system in place to recycle, but the everyman’s battery, for the most part, is still without a retirement home.

Batteries are composed of two or more electrochemical cells that produce chemical energy and the contain a lot of heavy metals and toxic substances.  Every year, almost 200,000 tons of batteries are discarded every in the U.S because battery recycling programs are not prevalent across the U.S, so it is not that easy yet for a consumer to find a convenient recycling location.  Almost all of these batteries can be recycled and the recovered materials used in other products.  

Right now, many hardware and phone stores will accept your old cell phone batteries.  But what should be done with those depleted everyday batteries inside of sending them off to the landfill or incinerator?

There are some options available to help alleviate the problem:

  • Start buying rechargeable batteries for low-drain devices.  (i.e. TV remotes…)
  • Kind in mind that you can also reuse most batteries that have been used in a high-drain device such as a digital camera that needs a burst of energy for the flash.   Migrate these old-timers to a low-drain device such as a remote control, clock radio backup, outdoor thermometer.  At least give it a try to see if it will work in these devices.
  • Solar battery charges are becoming more reliable and popular.
  • Switch to LED flashlights – they give off a great light and last much, much longer.
  • A number of companies offer turn-key recycling bins.   Just sign up for the program and for a minimal cost the will send out the collection buckets and pre-addressed/stamped shipping instructions.  Fill it up at your church, school, or community center and mail in a filled bucket for processing.

Overall, there are not many options for recycling alkaline batteries in most areas but there are a few companies that will provide containers for alkaline batteries to be collected and shipped back to them for recycling.  Of course, there is a charge for this service and the cost depends on the size of the container purchased.

GreenBlizzard is looking deeper into the real economic and environmental benefits of recycling everyday batteries.  Right now, we’d advise, Don’t bother.  Instead,  focus on bigger and better carbon reduction opportunities highlighted in other posted.


About the author

Keith Blizzard

A life-long environmentalist, Keith set out on the never ending journey of adjusting his lifestyle to a more sustainable one, with a goal of annually shrinking his carbon footprint. When he looked around for a dependable source of meaningful carbon footprint reduction ideas, it was pretty lame - so he launched Green Blizzard loaded with eco-friendly lifestyle tweaks. When he's not managing Green Blizzard, you'll find him on the trails around Mid Coast Maine with his trusty trail companion mutt, Moose.