One of the most commonly known potentially hazardous wastes you can find in homes is batteries. This includes used or spent batteries, such as alkaline or lead-acid car batteries. I know that before I began working for a hazardous waste company I always wondered if I was doing the right thing with my dead batteries.
According to the Duracell website, normal alkaline batteries can, in most cases, be thrown out with your household trash; however, we recommend that you recycle them or take them to an HHW event whenever possible because, although mercury has been removed from most commercial alkaline batteries available today, they still contain toxins that should not be released into the environment.
Additionally, if you do choose to throw away your used batteries, it is important that you do so in small numbers. Even dead batteries are often times not completely drained, so throwing away large quantities of batteries together could still be dangerous. A large group of mostly used batteries can work together to produce a charge.
Lastly, due to the chemicals in battery types other than alkaline, you should make sure to recycle rechargeable, lithium, lithium ion, and zinc air batteries. There are several ways to recycle batteries, and a quick internet search will provide you with plenty of options including Heritage Lifecycle Battery Recycling Kits.
Some examples of the types of batteries you may have in your home are:
- Car Batteries (Lead-acid)
- Alkaline Batteries (AA, AAA, C, D)
- Rechargeable Batteries (Lithium-ion, NiMH, NiCd)
- Camera Batteries
- Lithium Batteries
- Zinc Air Batteries
So now you know, while it is true that most standard batteries can be disposed of in your regular trash, it is still important to go about it the right way. Throw away only in small quantities and if possible take to a household hazardous waste day instead.