Monday, January 25, 2010

Handle all batteries with care

If you’re anything like us you have a kitchen junk drawer full of spent batteries (or batteries you think are worn out but you really can’t remember where they came from or how long they’ve been in there.) I had been ignoring these batteries until, over Christmas, my brother-in-law asked me what should be done with them. It was a timely question - 40% of annual battery sales happen during the holidays. That’s no surprise when you consider the increased use of cameras and camcorders over the holidays plus all those battery operated gifts.

Since it is estimated that your average individual tosses about eight single use batteries a year, having a drawer full isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means that you haven’t been putting them in the trash.

Batteries don’t belong in the landfill. Whether they’re single use alkaline (AA, AAA, C, D), lithium, button style or rechargeable batteries, there is a safe place for each of these and it isn’t your household trash. Even though many manufacturers of single use batteries say they should simply be tossed when worn out (which isn’t true) all batteries need to be handled with care. Some are at the very least caustic while others contain heavy metals and other toxic stuff. All can be recycled to varying degrees so it’s important to help them get into their proper recycling stream.

For a one-stop drop off you can take everything (rechargeable batteries, single use alkaline batteries, cell phones, CD Players, MP3 Players, CDs, Portable DVD Players) to Future Shop and look for the Greentec drop box.

As another option, the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (established by battery manufacturers) operates a free rechargeable battery and cell phone collection program. In our area look for drop off boxes at The Source, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Future Shop and Staples. Along with the common household rechargeable batteries you can drop off worn out rechargeable batteries from power tools, digital cameras, cellular and cordless phones, laptops, MP3 players and any other rechargeable that won’t hold a charge any longer. Visit their website ( ) for a complete listing of local drop off locations.
Or you can take your spent batteries to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility (HHWF) at Crane Mountain Landfill where they’ll be sorted and shipped off for recycling. Drop off is Saturday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon. You’ll be happy to know that no item delivered to the HHWF ends up in the landfill.
Now that you know how to dispose of batteries safely, you might want to consider changing your battery habits. A great place to start is to ban single use batteries from your life (except for your smoke detectors) and switch to rechargeable batteries wherever possible. A standard rechargeable battery can replace up to 300 single use batteries.

And one more tip, before you buy something that is battery operated consider other options. Think about it…do you really need a battery powered toothbrush or a battery powered milk frother?

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