Laptops, toys, cell phones, calculators – these are just some of the mobile products that need batteries to function. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 350 million batteries are purchased annually in the United States.
Batteries are a unique product comprised of heavy metals and other elements. Some of these toxic heavy metals include nickel cadmium, alkaline, mercury, nickel metal hydride and lead acid. It is these elements that threaten our environment if not properly discarded.
Not all batteries are the same, and there are different ways to ensure each type is properly discarded or recycled. The batteries that consumers use most include household alkaline batteries, nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries, nickel metal hydride (NiMH), rechargeable batteries, button cell, automotive and non-automotive lead based batteries.
That’s a lot of batteries – how do you know what type you are using? The following information might help:
Household/Alkaline batteries are common, single-use batteries – AA, AAA, C and D. These batteries have little to no mercury in them and recycling programs generally no longer accept them. In Gloucester, we do not. It is perfectly safe to dispose of them in the trash.
Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) are rechargeable batteries- considered to be hazardous waste, and MUST be recycled.
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Lithium-Ion are commonly used in laptops. They are considered non-hazardous waste but contain elements that can be recycled.
Button cell batteries are commonly used in hearing aids, calculators, and watches. These batteries contain silver, mercury, and other elements that are hazardous to the environment and should be recycled.
Automotive & sealed lead-based batteries contain hazardous materials and elements that can be reused and should be recycled as well.