Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ask The Green Miles

From blogger buddy Eric ...

Hey Miles,

I have an enviro question for you. ... What do I do with old batteries? I know you can recycle them, but I have no idea where or how. And is it just better to buy rechargeable batteries for everything to avoid the waste?


While batteries are not my area of expertise, I can definitely do some digging to try to find some answers.

Many batteries pose such a strong environmental hazard because they contain heavy metals. This is an especially strong concern in Arlington County, where our trash is incinerated. It's not cost-effective to recycle batteries, but they can be safely disposed to minimize environmental damage.

According to Earth911.org, the most environmentally-friendly way to go is to use rechargable batteries, but to then make sure you recycle THOSE batteries ...


Rechargeable batteries result in a longer life span and use fewer batteries. However rechargeable batteries still contain heavy metals such as nickel-cadmium. When disposing of rechargeable batteries, recycle if possible.
The use of rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries can reduce the number of batteries entering the waste stream, but may increase the amount of heavy metals entering the waste stream unless they are more effectively recycled. As of 1992, the percentage of cadmium in nickel-cadmium batteries was higher than the percentage of mercury in alkaline batteries, so substitution might only replace one heavy metal for another, and rechargeable batteries do use energy resources in recharging.
Rechargeable alkaline batteries are available along with rechargers.

Here are details from Arlington County on how to safely dispose of your batteries ...

Household Battery Disposal
Because Arlington's trash is incinerated at a waste-to-energy plant, residents are encouraged to keep most batteries types (except alkaline and carbon-zinc household varieties) out of the waste stream. Batteries can contain heavy metals that have to be removed from the emissions of the waste-to-energy plant. Rechargeable batteries, as well as lithium, siver-oxide, and mercury batteries should be deposited in special orange collection boxes located at most Arlington County Fire Stations or brought to the HHW drop-off site. These batteries enter the County's Household Hazardous Waste program, where they are either disposed of properly or recycled. Alkaline and carbon-zinc household batteries should be disposed of along with the regular trash.

Arlington County Fire Stations with Battery Recycling Containers:
Fire Station 1, 228-0101, 500 S. Glebe Road
Fire Station 2, 228-0102, 4805 Wilson Boulevard
Fire Station 4, 228-0104, 3121 N. 10th Street
Fire Station 5, 228-0105, 1750 S. Hayes Street
Fire Station 7, 228-0107, 3116 S. Abingdon Street
Fire Station 8, 228-0108, 4845 Lee Highway
Fire Station 9, 228-0109, 1900 S. Walter Reed Drive
Fire Station 10, 228-0110, 1559 Wilson Boulevard
Fire Stations 2, 5 and 8 have aluminum can collection trailers.

And finally, the most surprising thing I found ... we have organic food, organic wine, and even organic beer ... but are you ready for an organic battery?


21stCenturySocks said...

I saw a battery charger on QVC that was claimed to work on conventional batteries as well.
It wasn't cheap and I thought I'd rather talk to someone who got it to work before buying it.

Eric said...

Thanks for the 411! Good info.