Alkaline Batteries Do Need to be Recycled

by updated 2014/10/18

This post was originally titled “There May Be No Need to Recycle Alkaline Batteries”.  However as many of the great comments below show, we do indeed need to be recycling them.  The place I work recently put out boxes to collect all sorts of batteries for recycling, alkaline included, so now it is easy for me to do!  I will leave the text of the original post here for historical reading, but be sure to read the comments to see many of the options available to recycle your alkaline batteries.

From: www.freeimages.co I have worried for several years about all the odd items that should be recycled, but normally just go in to the household trash. A recent post and its comments touched on this subject. Thinking we could do more to recycle all the alkaline batteries our family goes through each year, I started making phone calls and doing some research. What I discovered really surprised me!

Most of what you find on the internet supported my belief that, ideally all batteries should be recycled. But, it seems that most of what I found on the internet is incorrect and outdated information. It turns out that maybe we can be less concerned about throwing our alkaline batteries in the trash than I had thought.

My education started with a call to a local battery store asking them if I could save alkaline batteries and bring them in to them for recycling. They said “no” and that “recycling alkaline batteries was not necessary”. They do accept rechargeable batteries for recycling. I contacted a national chain, Batteries Plus, and was told the same thing.

Here is what I found on the Duracell Battery web site:

“Alkaline batteries can be safely disposed of with normal household waste. Due to concerns about mercury in the municipal solid waste stream, Duracell has voluntarily eliminated all of the added mercury from its alkaline batteries since 1993 while maintaining the performance you demand. Our alkaline batteries are composed primarily of common metals such as steel, zinc and manganese that and do not pose a health or environmental risk during normal use or disposal.”

The Energizer web site says: “Energizer recommends recycling rechargeable, but not alkaline batteries, even indicating that alkaline batteries can safely go to city incinerators.”

I even found a couple of sites that said that if you bring alkaline batteries to recycling centers or events, they are separated from the rechargeables and typically end up in the landfill or incinerator anyway.

Some organizations are quite blunt in their information. The Consumer Electronics Association Question and Answer Website says: “Alkaline batteries are not recyclable. They’ll just be thrown out in a landfill, or at the most a hazardous waste landfill.”

I found only one company that says they recycle alkaline batteries, but I saw another web site that mentioned this same company and said they store most of their collected alkaline batteries in underground concrete bunkers, waiting for the day when the materials in them can be recovered with more cost effective methods.

In summary, because alkaline batteries no longer contain mercury and because of the small amount of recoverable metals in them, they are not typically recycled. Some claims are made that using regular alkaline batteries is actually better environmentally than using rechargeables. I have trouble with this claim, but the reasoning behind it is this. Rechargeable batteries can contain mercury, cadmium, lead, and lithium. There are environmental impacts associated with the manufacture of rechargeable batteries. Many rechargeable batteries do end up being tossed into the regular trash by people who are either unaware that they should be recycled, or feel it is just too much trouble to do so.

It appears the reality is this:  Alkaline batteries do not contain as many toxic components as I had thought. They do, however contain metals like nickel, cobalt, zinc, manganese, and silver. At this time there are no real cost effective methods available to recover these metals. In addition, many claims are made that these common metals pose no environmental threat when disposed of with normal household trash.

I think it might take a while for me to get used to this reality. I would still be worried if your community uses an incinerator to dispose of trash as the metals from the batteries might end up in the air. I do think I will be able to feel less guilty when I do toss out expended alkaline batteries in our trash which goes to a landfill. I will continue to make sure any rechargeable batteries or car batteries we use up get recycled, but I may have to revise my thinking and get off my high horse when it comes to alkaline batteries.

Let me know what you think and feel free to include links to information I might have missed. Recycling is an important and visible issue and we need to make sure we have our facts right!

Will Sig
1 Bob

Interesting post, got me thinking, there is a lot of companies out there that will recycle household batteries

http://www.rawmaterials.com/rmcmain.htm

A very interesting quote from Mountain equipment co op is “household batteries are responsible for between 50-70% of all heavy metals found in landfills.

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2 Will

Thanks for the comment and links, Bob. I fixed the second link so that it opens to the correct page. That is the sort of info I was looking for. Though I wish they had linked the source of that 50 -70% figure. Most of what I found indicated that the alkaline batteries were not a problem. I wonder if some of the confusion stems from this… The metals are indeed present in the batteries, but the metals themselves are ones that are quite plentiful in nature. (Nickel for example.) Maybe the consensus is that metals like that are not a problem in landfills. I would think they would cause trouble when incinerated and released to the air.

I wonder how the average consumer gets batteries to a company like rawmaterials? In order for it to work, there would have to be an easy and free way for the consumer to recycle the batteries or they won’t do it. I may give them a call and get more info.

-Will

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3 JD Thomas

Thanks for the leg work on this Will.

I have big issues with the Energy Returned on Investment (EROI) involved in a lot of recycling issues. I’m not sure how it plays out now, but I know in the late 1980’s and into the early 1990’s my region the capacity for recycling newspaper could only handle about a 10th of what entered the recycling stream. I saw the huge sea of pallets loaded with paper just sitting there and a fair amount of energy was used to collect it.

At one point a company offered to take it off the township’s hands and we were all excited about it. They were going to pulp it and use it for blow-in insulation for houses. But when they came out to look at it it, the fact that it had sat out in all kinds of weather it had gotten rained on and turned moldy so it ended up in the landfill anyway. In the long run more energy was spent on it than if it had gone directly to a landfill.

If we can get people recycling the items that do give us a good EROI like Glass and Aluminum and the items that add toxins to the environment like rechargeable batteries. Then we worry about everything else. :)

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4 Reenie

Glad to see this article and your comment. I did a research paper on recycling because I had to defend the argument that it was a waste of resources. What I found was sometimes shocking. When I researched the decision of McDonald’s some years ago to go from Styrofoam containers to corrugated paper, I found articles discussing whether the amount of electricity and water used to recycle the paper containers was worse than having the Styrofoam in a landfill. I recycle everything I can, but recently quit going to the trouble of finding someone to take the alkalines.

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5 Les

Your site has been reviewed by the radical blogger = you can see the results here:

http://myradicalblogs.com/?page_id=87

It may take several hours for the front page article to appear. You review however has been published.

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6 Will

Hi Les – And thanks for the review! I hope your Site Review Catalog takes off. It could be a great resource as it grows!

-Will

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7 Anna

Hey Will about single use batteries our local recycling booklet instructs us to take all batteries, even the alkaline into hazardous waste depot. They mention that most of the single use batteries do not contain hazardous materials, but they may contain small traces that when accumulated can eventually pose danger.

Here is the Canadian link:
http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/myenvironment/home/batteries.php

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8 Pete

Will, I appreciate your comcerns, but your facts are not entirely correct. It is true that there should not (i.e. chinese made toys should not contain lead) be any mercury in U.S. alkaline batteries, since 1996 Act of Congress ban.
However, those “common” metals you refer to are heavy metals considered toxic contaminants to our drinking water, as well as wildlife. As a chemist, I often simplify the issue as “too much of a good thing.” We can only process very tiny portions of these metals; even Vitamin C is toxic in very large doses.
It should not be too difficult to deposit your batteries in a “Big Green Box” program sponsored by a number of retailers, including Whole Foods Market and Walgreens. See http://www.biggreenbox.com
I hope this helps to resolve your questions.

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9 Will

Hi Pete, I agree. The problem is so much conflicting information. I called Toxco, the company that runs the Big Green Box program this morning and had an in-depth conversation with one of their technical people. I will post soon with the specifics I learned from him, but for now, yes, use the BGB program if you can. Alkaline batteries collected through that program are indeed recycled!

-Will

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10 Andy

go into walmart or BJ’s or any store. rack upon rack upon rack of batteries. a pallet of them weighs tons. to say that we don’t need to recycle alk’s because they don’t have metals known to be toxic, like mercury, or that the metals they do contain, like nickel, aren’t in short supply, misses the point. it is simply more responsible to recycle them and reuse what there is to reuse. imagine all the energy that went into mining the ore, smelting and purifying, transporting, manufacturing, packaging etc etc. all so a battery could power a radio for a few weeks and then permanently end up in a landfill, taking up precious space? or be burned, and dispersed? i’m still researching the alternatives but the BGB program by Toxco does seem like a responsible solution. If they can make a profit off of it and return the various metals to the productive stream, or even store used batteries in a sensible way against future use as metal prices go up and down, then I say more power to them.

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11 Will

Hi Andy! You make a good point and I feel the same way. Economics plays a huge role in recycling, though. Unfortunately the success of recycling individual products often depends on these economics. Toxco claims they are doing it within these economics, but they still charge for the Big Green Box. Imagine how much more successful the program would be if Toxco could provide the box for free and still make it profitable.

-Will

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12 The Happy Rock

Will,

Thanks for the hard work. I have been storing alkalines for months because I couldn’t find a good answer on what to do with them.

Most people still think they need special disposal, although no one does it.

Any idea how to get the batteries to Toxco? I hate the idea of just trashing them?

The Happy Rocks last blog post..Community In Action – Debt Elimination Party

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13 Will

Happy – Read this post for more information and then follow the link in comment #11 on that post to The Big Green Box list of participants. Locate a business on the list in your area that will take your alkaline batteries for free. Here the local Walgreens has a Big Green Box, and the number of participants is expanding all the time. Hope that helps!

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14 Robert Roser

Finally – some good news on recycling alkaline batteries in Australia!

For years we’ve been able to recycle rechargeable (‘secondary’) batteries, but the only option for flat non-rechargeable batteries was to chuck them in the bin. But now some battery recyclers have started collecting alkaline batteries for recycling too. They’re stockpiling the batteries for a pilot plant that’s being built at Wollongong University to trial a new method for recycling alkaline batteries. If the trial works well enough, a bigger plant will be built to recover zinc, manganese and steel from some of the 8,000 tonnes of alkaline batteries that go to landfill in Australia every year.

Robert Rosers last blog post..Green New Year’s Resolutions

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15 Tom

We offer the The Marlie DCBR-50K system it has an extremely small carbon footprint, and will recycle alkaline, nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries while recovering 93% of the raw materials. This patented, environmentally friendly Marlie process ELIMINATES THE NEED TO INCENERATE BATTERIES , ALSO ELIMINATES THE NEED TO LANDFILL DRY CELL BATTERIES, and will do so for literally pennies a pound. You can all see and read about this system at this site,( http://www.marlieinc.com/index.html ) . If there are any questions please feel free to contact Wayne Stevens. He will be happy to answer any and all questions about this system and how it works.

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16 Will

Maybe I missed it but I could not see how much it costs to have you recycle the batteries. How do you get batteries from consumers like us?

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17 Tom

Hi Will

That sir is the problem . (Collection ) You can get in touch with
Call2Recycle and ask them what they do with all the Alkaline Batteries that they collect in the USA & Canada at their 30,000 different collection spots , rest assure they will tell you that they don’t collect Alkaline Batteries because Alkaline batteries are not classed as Hazardous waist. Well if I or 6 billion other people in the world was to drop off spent batteries
do you think they would stop and read the battery label before dropping them into the recycle box ? No I don’t think so. It is Mandated in Canada and Europe all spent batteries are to be collected and recycled . Plus I believe the Mandate in Europe states they have to be recycled NOT LANDFILLED OR
INCENERATED. Hope this clears up a bit of the confusion . If you have any more questions please feel free to ask.

Tom

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18 Sabrina

Actually Tom, Call2Recycle does accept alkaline batteries in some provinces, and there are certain retail stores that are allowed to collect alkaline batteries nation wide, in Canada that is. Maybe things have changed since your post.

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19 Tom

It is Mandated in Canada and Europe all spent batteries are to be collected and recycled . Plus I believe the Mandate in Europe states they have to be recycled NOT LANDFILLED OR INCENERATED

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20 jack bradbury

Hey Tom, Jack from All Battery Sales and Service. As far as I know only British Columbia and maybe one or two other provinces mandates that alkaline must be recycled. They are still way ahead of us statesiders.

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21 Robert Roser

from battery world WEB SITE http://www.batteryworld.com.au/asp/index.asp?pgid=11219

BATTERY RECYCLING

Most batteries contain heavy metals which is the main cause for environmental concern. Disposed of incorrectly, the heavy metals may leak into the ground when the battery erodes. This contributes to soil and water pollution and endangers wildlife. Some components in batteries can be toxic to fish and make them unfit for human consumption.

Each year Australian’s discard about 8,000 tonnes of used batteries. The Australian Bureau of Statistics stated in a report published in November 2003 (4602.0 Environmental Issues People’s Views and Practices). Batteries are the most common form of hazardous waste disposed of by Australian Households, with 97% of those disposing of them via their usual rubbish collection.

To the average Australian consumer, a battery is a battery. They are not always aware of its chemistry, its ability to be recycled or the effects that battery can have on our environment if disposed of incorrectly.

In Australia, except for lead acid type chemistries, all other battery disposal collection for recycling overseas is carried out by MRI Australia. At present MRI export batteries to recycling facilities in France and Asia.

However, scientists, industry, environmentalists, government and recyclers are presently investigating the feasibility of building Australia’s first plant for recycling consumer product batteries e.g. Alkaline household batteries.

Battery World offer consumers a free battery recycling service. Businesses are welcome to contact a Battery World store to make commercial arrangements to dispose of their batteries or the can go to MRI direct – http://www.mri.com.au.

Robert Rosers last blog post..Green New Year’s Resolutions

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22 Will

Thanks Robert! Sounds like a move in the right direction. I now collect all used alkaline batteries in our home, stockpiling them until I get enough for a run to Walgreens where there is a “Big Green Box”. I am not sure most people will go to the trouble, though. Unfortunately it is easier just to toss them in the trash. But even if only a percentage of them make it to the recycling box, that is an improvement.

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23 Luc J

The good news is that there are chargers now that recharge regular alkaline batteries as well! I’ve found the rezap battery charger, but there might be other brands as well. If you can recharge your alkalines 10 times, that means a 90% reduction of batteries to dispose of!

Luc J@Clever & Easys last blog post..USBCell – Rechargeable Battery With Built-in Charger

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24 Luc J

The good news is that there are chargers now that recharge regular alkaline batteries as well! I’ve found the rezap battery charger, but there might be other brands as well. If you can recharge your alkalines 10 times, that means a 90% reduction of batteries to dispose of!

Luc J@Clever & Easys last blog post..USBCell – Rechargeable Battery With Built-in Charger

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25 12 volt akku

Thanks for this information.According to me still there are few issues need to be solved.From the day Alkaline Batteries are invented they are used almost everywhere starting from toys to house hold electronics items like flashlights,remote controls etc.Even if mercury is removed from it still contains potassium hydroxide which is not at all environment friendly element and it causes health issues for human beings.Not every manufacturer using the latest technology for manufacturing mercury free product.It needs to be force as law to prohibit use of mercury for manufacturing of Alkaline batteries and we still go for recycling them till we are not sure about its manufacturing details.However with the advance technology and some research development raises chances of invention of environment friendly product.

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26 Tim Gordon

Thank you for your intelligent discussion of this subject.
I have a moving company and am considering given each customer a battery recycling kit (essentially a pre-addressed pre-stamped box that can be dropped into the mail when full) as a goodwill gift at the end of the move.
But of course this could seems a bit daft and a waste of money if recycling is neither practical nor necessary.

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27 Will

Hi Tim! I think your idea is a good one. This topic is all over the place as to whether it is needed or not. If you look at this page you can see I have written a few times on the subject and had tons of comments, many of which take opposing viewpoints. Ignore the first post on the page as it shows up even though it does not contain the word “batteries”. Strange that the WordPress search engine thinks it should be included because it has “battery” in it. Sneaky spam indeed.

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28 JD

Tim: If you decided against the battery recycling kit, you could look into maybe providing CFL or LED (CFL is cheaper of course) light bulbs to your customers when they move.

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29 Adam

Thanks Will.
I really find your argument very interesting!
I really would love to read some more info and hear some more about it. So are there any ways on recycling alkaline batteries at all?! Or the fact of the hazards metals just being ignored as we still have plenty of those metal in the planet?
IF there are ways, what are the ways on recycling alkaline batteries? are they cost effective enough? If the process of re-using one battery costs more energy then producing a brand new one, any point of doing that?
Please reply, would love to hear your comment!

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30 Tom

There is a way to Recycle Alkaline Batteries………

We offer the The Marlie DCBR-50K system it has an extremely small carbon footprint, and will recycle alkaline, nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries while recovering 93% of the raw materials. This patented, environmentally friendly Marlie process ELIMINATES THE NEED TO INCENERATE BATTERIES , ALSO ELIMINATES THE NEED TO LANDFILL DRY CELL BATTERIES, and will do so for literally pennies a pound. You can all see and read about this system at this site,( http://www.marlieinc.com/index.html ) . If there are any questions please feel free to contact Wayne Stevens. He will be happy to answer any and all questions about this system and how it works.

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31 Will

Adam – Yes they can be recycled. Like anything else beyond curbside recycling, some effort is involved. You can find a few posst at this link that discuss this. As you can see, the comments are on both sides of the question.

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32 Dave

Thank you Will for an enjoyable read. On recycling/ disposing don’t you think it will be better to tackle the problem from the root, e.g. make it mandatory to teach schooling kids the importance of sorting trash properly, while parents enforce garbage sorting at homes? In time ‘irresponsible’ garbage disposal will be a thing of the past. And another plus point is that it will teach people to buy less, use less, hence throw away less.

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33 Will

That is great in theory, Dave, but I bet the parents that would teach/enforce this already are, and the ones that are not, never will. Plus sometimes the inconvenience of recycling what should be is just too much for most people. For example, what percentage of small CFL bulbs do you think are recycled? What percentage just go right in the household trash? What is needed is better manufacturing methods and easier recycling procedures.

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34 Tom

Hi Will

Just so that you get a copy of this sent to you also .

We offer the The Marlie DCBR-50K system it has an extremely small carbon footprint, and will recycle alkaline, nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries while recovering 93% of the raw materials. This patented, environmentally friendly Marlie process ELIMINATES THE NEED TO INCENERATE BATTERIES , ALSO ELIMINATES THE NEED TO LANDFILL DRY CELL BATTERIES, and will do so for literally pennies a pound. You can all see and read about this system at this site,( http://www.marlieinc.com/index.html ) . If there are any questions please feel free to contact Wayne Stevens. He will be happy to answer any and all questions about this system and how it works.

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35 Marla

Thanks for your post Will. I came across this in my search for recycling “everyday” alkaline batteries for my project. I am trying to come up with a proposal for my hospital so that we could do the right thing and not throw these batteries in the trash. I like you, have found very little in the way of recycling these types of batteries and have found that most of the literature states to just throw them away. I am currently waiting on information from a company Battery Solutions: http://www.batteryrecycling.com/information+request+thanks/ that apparently recycles these batteries, however it is not free and I am unsure at this time what the cost is, especially for a large facility such as a hospital. Thank you for your concern for our planet.

marla:)

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36 Jesse

Hi Marla,

I saw your post and was wondering if you have heard for PerfPower Go Green batteries? They recycle all of their used batteries brand for free at no cost to the user. They do large scale commercial accounts too. If you register at their website iRecycled.com, I’m sure you will be able to do some business with them :)
Jesse

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37 Susan

The company I work with has just entered into a joint venture and formed Recupyl-Battery Solutions. We opened a plant in Brighton, MI this summer that is the first Alkaline battery recycling plant in North America. It is a state of the art, room temperature, low emission process that breaks the batteries down into their componnents. The paper, plastic, steel and zinc maganese are then recycled or reused to make new products, keeping the batteries out of the landfills. You can reach us via our website for more information. Thanks,
Susan

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38 Mindy

Our county has waste to energy incinerator, and they say “In addition to the generation of electricity, the ash residue generated as a result of the incineration process is cycled through a magnetic separation process where the metals are separated and then recycled.” So some of the metals from alkaline batteries would end up being recycled after incineration.

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39 Will

Interesting Mindy, what part of the world are you? I still think of incinerators as those big metal cones with a screen of sorts on top where the only thing that was prevented from entering the air were the big pieces of burning material.

Is everything burned in your county? Or do you have to do some separating? I wonder how clean the exhaust from the incinerator really is.

I did find information about waste to energy incineration on Wikipedia which seems to say the process is still not a efficient and clean as it should be.

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40 Katja

Thank you for thinking about recycling and environmental protection. I am happy because the batteries with cadmium ceased to produce.

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41 aardvarkk

Medical waste includes batteries from things like cauderizers and irrigation equipment and such the like. These devices typically use less than 10 percent of the energy available in the battery, then tossed in a refuse as hazardous waste because it has the possibility of exposure to bio active materials. Is there a way to ensure non-contact with bio active materials that are not going to be cost prohibitive, to allow those almost fully charged batteries to live out their natural lives in a useful capacity and not in a landfill?

Also, there is something in the beginning stages of development called, I believe, “The Joule Thief”, witch allows a 3vLED to run at full brightness off of a 1.5 v battery which is almost dead. The really interesting thing is that it can run a full 48 hours straight. I think this is a device that should have made it into the production of all devices that are battery operated. It would have the capacity to reduce the total influx of battery waste by at least 50%, if not a great deal more. As I understand it, it is not simply an adapter but a device that uses the “Bedini Circuit”. This circuit induces current from the collapse of the EMF(electromagnetic field) produced by the flow of electrons through a conductor. I know this may seem a bit technical but I want to avoid the comments concerning the possibility that this simply cuts the life of the battery in half. This is not the case. It actually doubles the life of the battery and may do better than that. The idea is that it is more efficient to to push around the EM field than to push a magnet or the copper of a generator since an EMF is much less massive. If any idea has my vote for funding and backing, it is this one. It seems like it has much more merit, because it reduces the primary need for batteries to start with.

http://www.google.com/search?q=bedini+circuit&hl=en&prmd=ivns&source=univ&tbs=vid:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=FpiJTdqoF8aY0QHrmuH6DQ&ved=0CC8QqwQ

http://www.google.com/images?oe=UTF-8&gfns=1&q=bedini+circuit&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&sa=X&ei=FpiJTdqoF8aY0QHrmuH6DQ&ved=0CD0QsAQ&biw=1024&bih=628

have fun with these links!

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42 Will

And here is another link: http://thejoulethief.com/

I wonder if it is a viable concept? Interesting to say the least. And all this time I thought Bedini was Houdini’s Uncle! ;-)

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43 Tom

I read a few posts on here that Walgreens has a “Big Green Box” program to recycle batteries. I just want to my local Walgreens and they said they had no way to recycle batteries. I just went on Walgreens website and could find nothing about the “Big Green Box” program. It could just be my bad luck but I question if Walgreens actually recycles batteries.

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44 Susan

Walgreens stores in Chicago accept batteries for recycling because the City of Chicago set up the program. The batteries collected are sent to Battery Solutions in Howell, MI where they are all recycled, including the Alkaline.
Nothing is land-filled, nothing is incinerated. We have a Box Program called iRecycle Kits for business and households in our website store http://www.batteryrecycling.com
Susan

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45 Will

Those kits look great Susan.

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46 Skip

April 11, 2011 – I just called Batteries Plus in St. Cloud, MN and was told that yes, they do take alkaline batteries for recycling and do not charge for taking them at this time.

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47 Will

Hi Skip – Can you ask them exactly where they send them for recycling?

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48 Skip

Will – a Batteries Plus rep told me the company that picks up the alkaline batteries for recycling is RBC. He also said its getting expensive to recycle alkaline batteries and he isn’t sure how long Batteries Plus will take alkaline batteries without charging. Makes me wonder what RBC is doing with them? I could only find a company called RBRC which is Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp.

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49 jack bradbury

hey Will,
there’s definitely a lot of misinformation regarding alkaline batteries and recycling. The bottom line is that it is much better for the environment if these batteries and their heavy metals and chemistry don’t enter the normal waste stream. The Big Green Box program is a responsible option to keep alkaline batteries out of the landfills, but it is expensive; somewhere around $1.37 to $1.65 a pound. My company accepts alkaline at no charge from households and recycles it. We charge businesses $.65 a pound to recycle. My job is to try to get businesses and municipalities to responsibly recycle, and it’s no easy feat given the misinformation out there. Information from battery manufacturer’s needs to be taken with a grain of salt; they want you to believe dumping in the landfill is no problem because that sells more batteries. Counties in my state (Washington) are as confused as you. They are all over the place from just refusing to accept alkaline to recycling it.
Bottom line is to keep pushing for recycling options and then making sure they are really doing so. Many “recyclers” including some of our counties are just land filling the alkaline batteries they accept.

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50 Saccha

Interesting! I have always thought alkaline batteries were supposed to be recycled. I remember stocking up on used alkaline and rechargeable batteries so that I can bring them all to recycling stations at one go. I never thought that those alkalines would just end up in the incinerator. Just a thought though, if they also just place the alkalines in the incinerator, does that mean that they just incinerate alkaline batteries? Or they also end up being burned with other materials? I mean would it have been better if I just threw away my old alkalines–thereby saving time of those going over the batteries at the recycling stations.

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51 jack bradbury

Where I live, Washington State, counties are allowed to decide how to dispose of Universal Waste. As to how that relates to alkaline, in an 9 county review I did, 1 county actually recycles it with a steel smelter, 1 county allows households to toss in the trash and takes larger quantities to the same smelter, 1 county “microencapsulates” alkaline and dumps in a Class C landfill, and 6 counties just dump in the regular landfill.
I don’t know if they incinerate stuff that goes in the trash. Definitely bad if they do. It’s all driven by cash. They know that the heavy metal and corrosives in alkaline batteries are bad, they just can’t afford to handle it properly. The counties that handle alkaline properly are funded by grants.

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52 Rob Wane

Wise men once said that to carpet the world is not the easiest thing to consider that we should wear our own slippers to protect ourselves from harm and difficulties meaning we should manage our own waste first before we think of others garbage.
Rob Wane recently posted..Waste King L-2600 Legend Series 1/2 HP Continuous Feed Operation Waste Disposer ReviewMy Profile

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53 Susan

There is a company in Brighton, MI – Recupyl Battery Solutions – that is recycling Alkaline batteries using the latest technology from Europe. This process is low temperature, low emissions and fully recycles these batteries. The recycling process breaks the batteries down in the zinc-manganese, a paper-plastic mix and steel. All of these components are fully recycled. Nothing is land filled.

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54 jack bradbury

Will, the way we process waste alkaline is by supplying containers and picking up when full. We only operate in Western Washington and charge .70 a pound to recycled alkaline. There will soon be options where the battery manufacturers will finance recycling alkaline. There are test markets springing up now and will be pretty common by 2012. By 2013 the tests will be done and programs like Call 2 Recycle will be up and running for alkaline.

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55 Todd

Update on Batteries Plus. I dropped some alkaline batteries off at one of their stores in Minneapolis this weekend (12.17.11) and got the “you can just throw them away” speech. I pointed out to them that I’m trying to pick up the pace a bit and not simply throw everything away and got the blank look that says “yeah, like we care.”

I’m looking for a new (and better) source for recycling batteries.

-Todd

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56 James

Todd, depending on your location, Hennepin county has a excellent residential battery recycling program.
MN is currently looking at state stewardship legislation that would have the cost associated with recycling paid for by the manufacturers of the batteries.
http://recyclebattery.org/

Aside from the detrimental environmental effects from disposal of batteries, it is also a waste of resources. The materials contained in alkaline batteries like zinc, nickel, iron, potassium and manganese can be recovered for reuse. Fewer steel mills and WTEs are accepting these materials do to the damage batteries cause to their processes.

Ontario, Canada, implemented a Stewardship program to collect and recycle alkaline batteries. This was the first of its kind in North America. Under this program going into its third year already over 20% of the batteries sold within the province are collected for recycling. These batteries are also recycled to a environmental standard, recycling over 86% of the batteries contents for reuse. This is important as cheaper options less environmentally sound processes can be used unless proper legislation is implemented for the management of batteries after they are collected. Under the Ontario program no materials are land filled and all materials are used in high order recycling, this means used as raw materials to produce products that require zinc, manganese and potassium effectively diverting these materials. Hopefully a similar program will be accessible in the US soon. All the best and keep up your battery recycling efforts. It is because of people like you that these programs are now coming to fruition.

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57 Todd

I would love to see a manufacturer paid program. That would give them the incentive to make their batteries easier to recycle instead of tossing.

In the meantime I shunt our batteries over to the local library where they have a bin set up. It’s supposed to be just for residential use, but we slip batteries from work in there too. I work in a theater, which generates a lot of used batteries from assisted hearing devices, front of house radios, stage management communications, flashlights, and a whole host of other applications. And that’s just the alkaline side. We have a raft of lead/acid batteries come in on a steady basis from UPS’s to run switches, sound and lighting boards, and the like.

So for us getting a good battery recycling system in place is a pretty big deal no matter what the type we’re looking at.

Thanks for the updates. It’s good to keep tabs on the state of the industry.

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58 jack bradbury

if you need a place to recycle alkaline batteries I would suggest going to earth911.com and typing in “single use batteries” and your zip and they will show the closest spots. Not always convenient because it does cost the providers of this service money to recycle alkaline. The good news on the horizon is that manufacturers are starting to accept responsibility for funding recycling alkaline. Still a couple years down the road for implementation, but that’s the way it is heading.

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59 Todd

I talked to our local recycling nonprofit, Eureka Recycling, and here’s what they had to say. I hope you’re up for a long read as she was very verbose about the subject.

“Thank you for your e-mail. You have a great question. One time use batteries are a challenging item because there is not a system set up to recycle them and even if a place says they will take them for recycling, they often just dissemble them and dispose of them. So, in a way, the Batteries Plus sales person was correct.

However, there is a larger problem of the producers not thinking about the end of the useful life of a product. Contacting the manufacturer to take them back might be a good option to see what they say. Could the producer take them back and recycle them back into batteries? Could the producer take them back and “dispose of them properly”? These are important issues because the most efficient place to reduce waste and encourage reuse, reduction, recycling, and composting is at the product development stage. This is the most economical way to minimize the environmental impact of the product.

Or, another option exists around rechargeable batteries – batteries that can be reused several times and then recycled at the end of their life. For many people, this is a good option, but the producers need to work to make them less toxic or take responsibility for properly and safely handling the toxic material after the full lifecycle of the battery. That cost currently falls on you and local units of government. It really comes down to producers redesigning products to make the product that we want – not packaging (in this case – the battery is the packaging for the power that we wanted from it), and not a toxic product that can contaminate our air or water at the end of its useful life. “

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60 Will

Thanks Todd! Long reads are never and issue here. Many readers are looking not only for the simple facts, but the reasoning behind them. So a comment with the details is always appreciated. I understand this person recommending the more recyclable rechargeables, but as you pointed out in your earlier comment, many of us are looking for ways to recycle products that have not historically been recycled. The more we reuse or recycle the better, but it has to be convenient or only those few of us willing to do the legwork will do it. This sort of thing absolutely has to reach the masses in an easy way before things will change.

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61 Todd

Things aren’t going to change substantially unless consumers like us contact the manufacturers and prod them in the right direction. Which is one of the wonderful values of forums like this: it brings like-minded people together to share their expertese and encouragement. A nation-wide recycling system will be great as it’ll make it easy for consumers to drop off their batteries. An added indirect bonus is manufacturers will in turn start designing batteries that are easier to recycle as it’ll bring their recycling costs down. That’s assuming, of course, that the new manufacturing techniques are cheaper than the recycling costs. Let’s not kid ourselves here: these guys aren’t pursuing this program because they’re a bunch of long haired tree hugging hippies. For them it’s all about market share, cost/benefit analysis, or the prospect of looming legislation.

Now if we can just get them to take back their packaging we’ll really hit some out of the park home runs.

-Todd

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62 Todd

Earth911 turned up a number of battery recycling sites near my zip code, but it will still take some research to see if they have the Batteries Plus attitude (just toss ‘em) or if they have a legitimate system in place for recycling them.

The Eureka lady has some very valid points in her email, but that’s more of a ten year solution and doesn’t really help people who are trying to recycle over the next couple of months or years. It will take time for public demand for a better packaging system (the battery case) builds and the manufacturers take notice. They’ve got billions invested in their current setup and it’s going to take a lot of consumer inquiries to get them to substantially change the way they make the product.

Still, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…

-Todd

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63 jack bradbury

Esureka had some good points, but some inaccuracies as well. Battery Solutions in Michigan recycles alkaline and retrieves over 90% of the material for reuse in various ways: steel manufacture, construction packing material and fertilizer.
Manufacturers will be financing test alkaline recycling projects in early 2012 in various parts of the country. The plan is after the tests are up and running, find which model works best and implement nationwide.

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64 Will

Hi Jack – If you know of a website that will list those locations as they become available, that would be fantastic. Thanks!

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65 jack bradbury

Hi Will.
I’ll try to find out what the test locations are. In Washington State, King and Snohomish Counties will be participating in the tests. Nationwide I’m not sure. The earth911.com site is still the best locator for recycling any waste. I love that site.

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66 James Wallace

Hi Will,
I appreciate your confusion. I am an environmental technology student and currently doing some research on this very subject. I understand how people can be overwhelmed by all the information/disinformation out there.
Here are my thoughts.
-Companies have a vested interest in you purchasing their product so they may not be the best place to obtain information.
-Bioaccumulation/Biomagnification and biotic uptake of heavy metals when they go into solution (ie.metal dissolves in water), hence our drinking water should they escape the landfill. See leachate. Are hazardous to human and animal (especially fish) health.
-Some have mentioned the energy involved in recycling, which has merit. However, I have not delved into the energy required to mine, process and transport ever diminishing resources to make the billions of batteries required each year to replace spent single use.
-Final thought, landfill space running out is becoming an issue. For these reasons and my fundamental belief that we should expend the energy to help protect the environment as we are the only creature on earth that puts such pressure on it’s systems.
Recommendation: Use plug in equipment whenever possible, rechargeable if need be or go camping and shut them all off so you and your kids can see what it is you are protecting! Not a dig I just love the outdoors, hope you do too!

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67 Mary

That’s interesting, Will, you made me look into the battery recycling situation here in King County, WA. Our household hazardous waste collection station does accept the alkaline batteries, and that’s where we take them. But you’re right, deep on one of the county websites it mentions that it’s also OK to put alkaline batteries in the trash. There are a lot of kinds of batteries, though, and it can confuse people. For example it’s not allowed to put button batteries in the trash or take them to the dump, they must be taken to the household hazardous waste collection station. Rechargeables need to be taken to certain retail stores for recycling.
Mary recently posted..Wahoo, my camera’s back!My Profile

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68 Will

hmm. I wonder what is special about the button batteries?

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69 Susan

Button batteries come in several different chemistries, including Lithium, Alkaline and Silver Oxide. They should be recycled. When storing them, be careful to protect Lithium batteries from short circuit by taping the terminals or bagging. If a number of them are stored together, and the terminals touch, they can heat up, spark and even catch on fire. We’ve seen it happen in shipments people send us.

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70 Susan

Battery Solutions, Inc offers battery recycling iRecycle Kits in sizes for use by individual households to business of all sizes. All batteries returned to us are fully recycled, including Alkaline. Our Alkaline battery recycling plant in Michigan is the greenest technology to recycle alkaline batteries at room temperature with very low emissions. Follow this link for more information on the Kits: http://www.batteryrecycling.com/Categories/iRecycle+Kits/195/
For larger quantities call Susan at (800) 852-8127. Kits are also available for fluorescent and CFL lamps.

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71 jack bradbury

yep, Battery Solutions is great. That’s who we ship alkaline to for final recycling.
Jack Bradbury
All Battery Sales and Service

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72 jack bradbury

Mary,
You are legally allowed to dump alkaline in the trash in Washington. The reason is because of the cost to recycle alkaline.
Here’s the bottom line:
Different types of batteries are made up of different components, but all batteries have three things in common: they are all non-biodegradable, they all contain heavy metals and they all contain electrolytes that can contaminate ground water. Used battery waste is far worse for the environment than paper, plastic and glass.
All batteries contain substances which are harmful to the environment. When batteries are incinerated, the metals they contain pollute the atmosphere and the incineration residues. When batteries end up in landfills, the metals can leach into the soil and water.
All batteries contain metals which are recyclable, so collecting and recycling all batteries help save resources.

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73 Tom

Very well said Jack. I agree with you 100 % . Now others need to stand up and take notice .

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74 Will

Yes, well said Jack. We collect them for 6 months or so at a time. Just need to be careful about tossing them into a plastic container. Sometimes weird, wet, nasty, things seem to happen at the bottom of battery pile!

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75 jack bradbury

thanks Will and Tom.
yeah, Will, that weird, wet, nasty stuff that happens at the bottom of the battery pile? That’s what we don’t want in our next glass of tap water.

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76 Kerry

A lot of nice thoughts. However the raw materials retrieved from recycling alkaline batteries do not cover the cost of recycling. Everyone wants to be green as long as it’s free. Who is going to for the cost of recycling the alkaline batteries?

The battery manufacturers?
The battery users?
Or toss them in the trash because it’s free? (most likely option)

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77 jack bradbury

Kerry, one of the biggest reasons the raw materials recovered from alkaline doesn’t pay the freight is because so little is recycled. If you have nationwide recycling all the costs go down so keeping bad stuff out of the wastestream becomes if not free, at least affordable. So who’s going to pay?
That would be option A, the battery manufacturers. My company is working on test programs financed by the Corporation for Battery Recycling (manufacturers) in Washington State. They will choose a Steward for the program this fall and by mid 2013 nationwide alkaline recycling will be a reality.
Is that achievable? It will probably need legislation to be truly effective. Just as they have it throughout Europe, most of Canada, and California.

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78 Tom

Hi Jack

I hope they all take a good look at The Marlie DCBR-50K system .
Haven’t heard from you in a while , how are the testing going ?

Tom
Marlie Inc.

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79 jack bradbury

Hey Tom,
Testing is going fine; basically business as usual with CBR paying the freight. This has allowed another county to start recycling alkaline.

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80 Kerry

Jack,

RBRC, Call 2 Recycle, CBR, take your pick they are essentially Toxco, Inmetco and the main battery manufacturers making a little money on the side. The nationwide distribution exists in the RBRC or Call 2 Recycle stewards such as Lowes, Best Buy, Home Depot etc. BUT… they didn’t take alkaline batteries since they are not profitable like the Nickel and Li-ion batteries.

I’ve read the MIT study by CBR and I understand the use of arc furnaces in recycling alkaline batteries but someone still has to pay (consumer) and they will have to be forced (legislation). I guess my only point was recycling batteries is not free!

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81 jack bradbury

well, partly accurate, but CBR is concerned only with the alkaline and other primary batteries that so far have not been accepted at no charge. The manufacturers’ won’t be making money on the side with alkaline, at least not that I can see.
And true, recycling alkaline batteries isn’t free. The manufacturers will pay for the program and pass the cost on to the consumer. That seems fair to me rather than forcing government to pay for cleanup or allow dumping. Those that use should pay the price of cleanup.
My point would be dumping isn’t a responsible option. All batteries, including alkaline are non-biodegradable, contain heavy metals and contain electrolytes that can contaminate ground water. The only reason alkaline was permitted to be dumped was because local government couldn’t foot the bill and they were’nt AS nasty as rechargeables.
Forced legislation? I agree. Call 2 Recycle has offered free recycling of rechargeables for well over a decade and only collect 12 to 15% of the waste batteries.

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82 Glenn

Excellent post Will. Recycling Alkalines would seem feasible if the metals could be separated in the melt. By density. Problem is there has to be a sufficient quantity of metals such as Cobalt and Silver? It would be interesting to find out if these metals are pure or combined as a salt?
Keep in contact.

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83 Susan

Glenn/Will – the chemical composition of Alkaline batteries is a Zinc/Manganese mixture. Battery Solutions recovers this material, along with steel and a paper/plastic mix and all three are recycled. However Zinc/Maganese does not have the market value that lead, cobalt, silver or nickel do and that is why there is cost to recycle alkalines. But, they CAN be recycled which keeps them out of the landfills and reuses the resources to make new products.

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84 Will

What has not changed is the ease of recycling things like batteries. Some of us will put in the extra effort and sometimes even the extra cost. Curbside co-mingled container recycling has really taken off. But the VAST majority of people will not recycle anything that can not just be tossed into the co-mingled container. So for now recycling consists mainly of paper, glass, and certain plastics.

I read somewhere that even with deposit glass bottles, most people do not go to the trouble of returning them. They just toss them into the co-mingled container with the other glass, etc.

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85 jack bradbury

ease of recycling alkaline batteries should change dramatically starting sometime in 2013 and ramping up. The battery manufacturers will begin picking up the tab for alkaline recycling at that point and the availability of recycling points and processes will increase dramatically. Don’t know exactly what it will look like, but it will definitely make recycling alkaline batteries more accessible.

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86 Forest

Thanks for the research article and all the commentaries it generated. After searching the web for answers to what I should do with my collection of used batteries, I found this to be the most informative.

Ya’ll rock!

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87 Regina Gomez Aldea

Thank you so much for your post as well as all of the commentary. I have been trying to figure: who takes alkaline batteries for free and what happens to alkaline batteries.

My home recycling program lets us put them on top of our recycle bin, but I wonder where it’s going. I’m helping to implement a household battery recycling program at work; I am so glad to hear that the Big Green Box actually recycles them.

If we’re going to be recycling, it’s so important that we really properly dispose of our stuff by learning of responsible and trustworthy organizations/companies doing the disposing.

I will be working to get the Big Green Boxes for our workplace.

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88 anita lavey

Will,
California and about 8 other states, have stricter laws than the federal government and other states regarding the disposal of alkaline batteries. In California, alkaline batteries are presumed to be hazardous for the hazardous waste characteristic of corrosivity. Most alkaline batteries contain an electrolyte composed of potassium hydroxide which is a chemical specifically listed in California regulations as a presumptive hazardous constituent. When you read the literature from Energizer and others that state Mercury is no longer used, the information is correct, but simply means the batteries are unlikely to be hazardous under federal law and most other states (including California) for the characteristic of toxicity.

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89 jack bradbury

good point Anita. I’ve been preaching the hazards of potassium for years, as has Battery Solutions. It’s just not a good thing to do to dump alkaline in the trash. Most local govt’s and federal govt imply it is safe to do so because they can’t afford the recycling themselves. I sympathize and don’t believe they should foot the bill, but dumping is not good. Obviously the manufacturers want you to believe it is safe to dump. They should pay for the recycling.

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90 Susan

Will, RBS – Recupyl Battery Solutions has a plant in Michigan where Alkaline batteries are completely recycled. Our process recovers Zinc-Manganese, a paper/plastic mix and steel. All three of these components are recycled into new products. NOTHING is landfilled. It’s important to remember that while states allow batteries in landfills, batteries are not biodegradable!
http://www.recupyl-usa.com/

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91 Paul Weiss

You are correct in not throwing these out in trash. Were do you think they go? All those metals wind up in landfill and eventually pollute groundwater or burned and are then sent into the atmosphere were they pollute our air and then ground/forests. We should be recycling these no matter the cost. This cost should be reflected in the price of the battery when you purchase. The cumulative cost of these metals getting into our water and air dwarfs the cost of recycling. We cannot go on growing our society this way. We cannot live in a non recycling society. Stop thinking about what the economist say and start thinking about what your health and our planets health says!

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92 jack bradbury

well put Paul!

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93 Susan

Thank you Paul and Will,
Battery Solutions is having a promotion in June:
Go Green! iRecycle Kit Anniversary Sale
iRecycle Kits: Battery Recycling Made Easier
Get 10% off your iRecycle Kit order in June only.
Our # is 800-852-8127 or email CustomerService@batteryrecycling.com

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94 George A Pena

Hello Will,
We here at Interstate All Battery Center in Renton Washington recycle all batteries and includes Alkaline. If you know of anyone that wants to use our service, direct them our way. Keeping our earth Green. Thanks

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95 jack bradbury

you go, George!!!
Nice to see you supporting the cause.
Jack Bradbury

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96 Will

Hi George – The closest thing I could find for a website for your business is this one. Do you know if all the Interstate Battery locations do the same complete recycling?

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97 jack bradbury

Will,
only some Interstate Battery Distributors recycle household batteries. Best to check with the distributor near you to see if they provide this service. Here’s a link to free alkaline drop off sites in northwest Washington State: http://www.allbatterysalesandservice.com/page.htm?pg=RECYCLELOCATION

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98 Zanjeeta Carnegie

Will,
One would think that the sheer magnitude of tons of batteries that can be recycled/reused would make these recycling programs self funded or profitable.

I hope Toxco makes enough money with their battery recycling to make other companies consider that business model. After all, there is a lot of unused warehouse space in post-manufacturing America right now. Sound like a good way to recycle an empty warehouse.

Love your blog, btw. It’s great to see a site like this with so many active readers, Keep up the good work.

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99 Mike

For anyone in Ontario, Canada, there is a recycling program funded by Stewardship Ontario allowing for free drop off and recycling of alkaline batteries. Our company, Raw Materials Company, can recycle up to 85% of every alkaline battery. The 15% of the battery that is un-recyclable, is the paper and plastic coating on the batteries which is sent for Energy recovery. The metals are sent for refinery and the zinc and manganese (65% of every battery) is palletized and used for fertilizer for Ethanol Corn growth. There are similar programs throughout North America, however, it is possible that these batteries are incinerated to recover the metals (recycling rate of around 45% as opposed to RMC’s 85%).

Please contact me if you would like more information.

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100 jack bradbury

Hey Will,
It might be time to either take this blog down or change it’s title. I’ve had a couple of websites use this blog as an authority on the justification of dumping alkaline batteries in the garbage. I think you may have seen the light on why this isn’t a wise idea given the volume and the negative effects batteries leaching into our groundwater and soil will wreak.
I’d suggest changing the blog title to: there IS a need to recycle alkaline batteries.
Just a thought.

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101 Todd

The blog is still active, even if there aren’t posts on it on a daily basis. I still subscribe as there are people out there posting valuable updates and I read them as they come in to keep up to speed on developments.

My recommendation would be to keep the blog up and open and those updates rolling.

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102 jack bradbury

yeah, I’m good with keeping it open, but the title is pretty misleading. I just went to a site, ecycler, that recommends you chuck batteries in the trash on the merit of Will’s blog. I don’t think Will believes the best action to take is dump batteries in the trash. I think the title change is the responsible action.

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103 Todd

Hopefully you set the site’s author straight on the proper disposal of batteries. People don’t seem to have good reading comprehension these days and simply grab whatever conclusion they want from scant information. Case in point, people nearly hit my car twice yesterday in the span of a quarter mile because they passed up numerous signs explaining which lane they need to be in to grab a particular exit.

Reading is hard, I guess. Fortunately my horn is loud and fun to use!

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104 Will

Hi Jack – You are correct and I did make a note above. Thanks. It’s funny that given the course the comments on this old post had taken, I had forgotten the original topic was just the opposite of what we all now know to be true.

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105 jack bradbury

thanks Will. And appreciate the thoughtful forum.

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106 Kurt

I have found that alkaline batteries are rechargeable at least once as long as you charge it a little bit at at time (in my case I charge AAAs using a standard 3 hour charger but only charge for a maximum of 2 hours (usually the charge time is dependent on the age of the battery). then charge again after it has time to “cool down” for maybe another hour) have also charged AA batteries as well using same process and have had good results.
they do sometimes “pop” when charging which I think is due to gas buildup from charging then leak fluid after that.
So, if you are very careful you can charge AA and AAA alkaline batteries for sure at least once.

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107 jack bradbury

hey Kurt,
This comes from “Batteries In A Portable World”.
“Recharging alkaline batteries is only effective if the cells have been discharged to less than 50 percent of their total capacity. The number of recharges depends solely on the depth of discharge and is limited to a few at best. With each recharge, less capacity can be reclaimed. There is a cautionary advisory, however: charging ordinary alkaline batteries may generate hydrogen gas, which can lead to explosion. It is therefore not prudent to charge ordinary alkaline unsupervised.”
Given that, and the fact you experienced some “pop”, I’d say why mess with it? Buy rechargeable NiMH or Lithium Ion.

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108 Will

I agree with Jack. Having done some science experiments in the past that involved balloons, hydrogen gas, a lighter and some impressive booms, I would definitely not mess around with this!

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109 Kurt

yes, I am aware of the dangers of recharging alkaline batteries, I just wanted to point out that it can be done ( I have been doing it for years), but I am very careful when I do charge them.
thank you for including some information I forgot to include!

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110 Susan

Will / Jack,
Good idea to change the title of this running conversation. And, I would add Alkaline batteries CAN be recycled. Battery Solutions (www.batteryrecycling.com) operates a state-of-the-art Alkaline battery recycling facility in Brighton, MI. It is the greenest method currently available to recycle Alkaline batteries. We processed 5 million pounds so far this year and yet so many people are not yet aware this can be done! Thanks for helping get the word out! Keeping these out of the landfill will make a difference.
Susan / Battery Solutions

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111 jack bradbury

Battery Solutions does a great job on alkaline recycling.

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112 John

State of California bans ALL batteries from the trash per state website:
http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/Info/

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113 jack bradbury

I know California bans dumping batteries in the trash, but I don’t think they have any recycling alternatives available. I know the battery manufacturers are not taking the material back for free except in one city where they are doing a test.
It’s a start though.

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114 Natasha

Hello Will, thank you for your post. A lot of people really don’t know how to deal with all trash that they have around them. How to deal with alkaline batteries after they are expired is one of the concerns that we’re all having. I personally think that if you don’t know how to deal with the problem, let other people do it for you. I’m living in Vancouver, Canada.

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115 jack bradbury

Natasha, actually alkaline battery recycling is a free service in British Columbia with all battery sellers accepting the waste batteries back at no charge. So no need to pay to have them hauled.

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116 Ruth

I am an avid recycler but am stumped by how to dispose of the batteries in old McDonald toys without breaking apart each toy. The button batteries in these toys definitely need to be recycled, but they are not designed to be accessible. I am really concerned about the environmental impact of these toys. Any ideas? I wish I had been more aware when I bought these for my kids. Thank you.

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117 jack bradbury

Hi Ruth.
Two options:
1) you can break the toy and free the battery
2) recycle the whole toy with your other batteries.

We often get toys, toothbrushes, etc with batteries in them and have to remove the batteries. No biggy!

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118 Ruth

Thanks! That’s great to know! Ruth.

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119 Charlie

As noted Alkaline batteries no longer have mercury “added”, which is what the law banned, but there are trace elements of mercury that are just part of the mining process. Additionally, while Zinc and Magnesium are benign, even necessary for human life in small quantities, they become toxic when concentrated; i.e., in a landfill. However, more than whether a substance is hazardous, mining is always the most destructive environmental component and the number one reason to recycle. Those that burn alkaline in their recycling process are able to fume off the zinc and get it back to a reusable metal, but for that positive the burning is a global warming negative. The good news, a company name Retrieve, is in process of being able to mechanically break down the alkaline battery to it’s reusable components so that Duracell, or whoever, could make new batteries without using mined ore. Probably later 3rd 2014 before process ready. Last, all other batteries have value, and will be recycled if taken to a proper recycle center. NiCd batteries, already banned in Europe, is the most hazardous due to Cadmium and needs to be recycled

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