I have a small cup I used to recycle my batteries. The cup is in my ‘Library Book’ Bag because the San Diego County Libraries take and recycle batteries! Most people do not realize how harmful batteries are to the environment. Here is some Facts and Stats- (Sorry, can’t remember where I got this)
Battery Facts and Stats:
|Americans purchase nearly 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year to power radios, toys, cellular phones, watches, laptop computers, and portable power tools.|
|Inside a battery, heavy metals react with chemical electrolyte to produce the battery’s power.|
|Wet-cell batteries, which contain a liquid electrolyte, commonly power automobiles, boats, or motorcycles.|
|Nearly 99 million wet-cell lead-acid car batteries are manufactured each year.|
|A car battery contains 18 pounds of lead and one pound of sulfuric acid.|
|Mercury was phased out of certain types of batteries in conjunction with the “Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act,” passed in 1996.|
|Recycling batteries keeps heavy metals out of landfills and the air. Recycling saves resources because recovered plastic and metals can be used to make new batteries.|
|Household batteries contribute many potentially hazardous compounds to the municipal solid waste stream, including zinc, lead, nickel, alkalines, manganese, cadmium, silver, and mercury.|
|In 1989, 621.2 tons of household batteries were disposed of in the US, that’s double the amount discarded in 1970.|
|In 1986, 138,000 tons of lead-acid batteries were disposed of in the US|
|Regular flashlight batteries can be disposed of in the trash (generally, some states, like California, have more restrictive rules) , though it is best to take them to a recycler.|
|Mercury-oxide and silver-oxide button batteries are often collected by jewelers, pharmacies, and hearing-aid stores who sell them to companies that reclaim the metals.|
|In 1993, 80 to 95% of automobile batteries were recycled|
The average person owns about two button batteries, ten normal (A, AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, etc.) batteries, and throws out about eight household batteries per year. About three billion batteries are sold annually in the U.S. averaging about 32 per family or ten per person. A battery is an electrochemical device with the ability to convert chemical energy to electrical energy to provide power to electronic devices. Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, which can contaminate the environment when batteries are improperly disposed of. When incinerated, certain metals might be released into the air or can concentrate in the ash produced by the combustion process.
Batteries may produce the following potential problems or hazards:
|Pollute the lakes and streams as the metals vaporize into the air when burned.|
|Contribute to heavy metals that potentially may leach from solid waste landfills.|
|Expose the environment and water to lead and acid.|
|Contain strong corrosive acids.|
|May cause burns or danger to eyes and skin.|
Dry cell batteries contribute about 88 percent of the total mercury and 50 percent of the cadmium in the municipal solid waste stream. In the past, batteries accounted for nearly half of the mercury used in the United States and over half of the mercury and cadmium in the municipal solid waste stream. When burned, some heavy metals such as mercury may vaporize and escape into the air, and cadmium and lead may end up in the ash.
Lead-Acid Automobile Batteries
Nearly 90 percent of all lead-acid batteries are recycled. Almost any retailer that sells lead-acid batteries collects used batteries for recycling, as required by most state laws. Reclaimers crush batteries into nickel-sized pieces and separate the plastic components. They send the plastic to a reprocessor for manufacture into new plastic products and deliver purified lead to battery manufacturers and other industries. A typical lead-acid battery contains 60 to 80 percent recycled lead and plastic.
Non-Automotive Lead-Based Batteries
Gel cells and sealed lead-acid batteries are commonly used to power industrial equipment, emergency lighting, and alarm systems. The same recycling process applies as with automotive batteries. An automotive store or a local waste agency may accept the batteries for recycling.
Household batteries – Dry-Cell Batteries
Dry-cell batteries include alkaline and carbon zinc (9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA), mercuric-oxide (button, some cylindrical and rectangular), silver-oxide and zinc-air (button), and lithium (9-volt, C, AA, coin, button, rechargeable). On average, each person in the United States discards eight dry-cell batteries per year.
- There are two types of batteries:
- (1) primary — those that can not be reused, and
- (2) secondary also called “rechargable” — those that can be reused.
Primary batteries include alkaline/manganese, carbon-zinc, mercuric-oxide, zinc-air, silver-oxide, and other types of button batteries. Secondary batteries (rechargeable) include lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, and potentially nickel-hydrogen.
|Typical Types of Household Batteries|
|Alkaline*||Cassettes players, radios, appliances|
|Carbon-zinc||Flashlights, toys, etc.|
|Lithium||Cameras, calculators, watches, computers, etc.|
|Mercury||Hearing aids, pacemakers, cameras, calculators, watches, etc.|
|Silver||Hearing aids, watches, cameras, calculators|
|Zinc||Hearing aids, pagers|
|Nickel-cadmium||Cameras, rechargeable appliances such as portable power tools, hand held vacuums, etc.|
|Small sealed lead-acid||Camcorders, computers, portable radios and tape players, cellular phones, lawn mower starters, etc.|