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If you can not get the battery recycled, it will probably meet the definition of a hazardous waste - dispose of it illegally (i.e., not through a licensed facility) and you could go to jail.
Battery Management Programs
Each year, over 2 billion used batteries are disposed into solid waste facilities in the United States. This constitutes 88% of the mercury and 54% of the cadmium deposited into US solid waste landfills. This represents a potential long-term threat to groundwater and drinking water supplies. Consequently, the system that is used to manage these batteries should promote source reduction, recycling, and proper disposal. These options, and their hierarchy, are the keys to pollution prevention; and for a business, that is the key for compliance and cost reduction.
This page is largely reproduced from the US EPA Office of Administration's information. It outlines the overall steps that may be followed when organizing a battery recycling plan. The steps include analyzing your facility's waste streams, examining all administrative issues associated with the program, evaluating battery recyclers, and educating your facility's employees on the benefits of a battery recycling program. In addition, this pamphlet discusses some pollution prevention opportunities present in battery recycling, methods for measuring the program's progress, and resources that are available to each facility.
There are EPA facilities which have implemented battery recycling programs as part of their pollution prevention efforts. Each facility that makes the decision to implement battery recycling programs will help protect the environment. The US EPA Office of Administration (OA) has spoken with several facilities that have implemented battery recycling programs at their respective facilities and gathered their responses. This page provides some key information from their experiences.
IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND OPPORTUNITIES
How do you begin a battery management program? Have you analyzed your facility's process streams, including procurement, usage, and disposal?The types and quantities of batteries that are present in each stream should be identified. By doing this, you will be able to customize a battery management program that meets your facility's needs.
What planning or administrative issues need to be addressed? The facility should conduct a battery needs assessment to determine where batteries are essential and where they might be eliminated. Once battery needs are established, there are significant factors which must be considered prior to implementation of the battery management program. These could include selecting and procuring the collection containers, sorting the batteries prior to submission to the recycler, and providing temporary storage space for the batteries.
For example, where will the collection containers be located? One central collection point could be established or multiple collection points could be provided. Smaller facilities or facilities that use fewer batteries should consider using a central collection point. Larger facilities or those facilities that use more batteries might want to consider using multiple collection points. No matter which method you use, your program should be structured so that it is easy for employees to participate in it.
How do you choose a battery recycler? One of the most important aspects of a successful battery recycling program is the battery recycler. Battery recyclers should be contacted and reviewed by management to see if they can fulfill the facility's recycling program needs. When evaluating a battery recycler, you should consider the following crite-ria. Does the recycler have a permit or state certification to be a battery recycler? What types of batteries will the re-cycler take? What are the re-cycling and disposal prac-tices of the recycler? How long has the recycler been in business? It is important that the recycler you choose is a state-certified recycler who practices environmentally sound recycling methods. Find out information on the recycling methods of the recycler to help ensure that your facility is not paying for irresponsible practices such as dumping or improper recycling. What costs will be incurred by the facility for the recycling services? How available is the recycler to your facility and how frequent are its collections? These and other topics should be used as evaluation guidelines to enable you to select the recycler that is right for your facility.
How do you communicate the benefits of the program to your employees? The benefits of the battery recycling program must be conveyed to employees if the program is to be successful. Many people have and are continuing to learn about recycling programs through educational tools. These tools include pamphlets, electronic and other printed material, seminars, and posters. Increased public education and awareness about recycling programs can enhance the success of your program.
Rechargeable batteries. The use of recyclable batteries in many devices can help to reduce the quantity of batteries disposed by your facility. By reducing the amount of batteries procured and disposed of, you can help reduce the amount of environmentally harmful wastes discharged by your facility and also save money. The following table provides a cost analysis for a typical rechargeable battery as compared to disposable batteries over a three-year period.
Cost Analysis for Rechargeable vs. Disposable Batteries*
Battery Type Batteries Produced Initial Procurement Cost Per Battery Total Procurement Costs Hazardous Waste Disposal 3-year Cost Savings Rechargeable
* Soviero, Marcelle, "Batteries Come Clean," Popular Science, July 1992, v241, n1.
Although the disposable battery's initial procurement cost per battery is about 6.7 percent of the rechargeable battery, its total procurement costs, over the three-year period, are almost 60 times the rechargeable battery's costs. Using the rechargeable battery produced a cost savings of $639 from procurement alone and resulted in 89 fewer grams of hazardous waste to dispose of than its disposable counterpart. Source reduction is one of the keys to pollution prevention. Substituting rechargeable batteries for conventional batteries can reduce the number of batteries procured and disposed by a facility.
Battery Inventorying. In addition, a battery recycling program could enable your facility to maintain an inventory of the batteries procured, used, recycled, and disposed within the facility. This can be accomplished through establishing policies to require that old batteries be exchanged to obtain new ones. By doing this, an efficient record of all batteries used can be maintained, and facilities can ensure that batteries are being recycled and not disposed as waste. Spreadsheet and computer database programs can be used to establish an inventory system.
Centralized Procurement. Furthermore, the procurement of batteries could be centralized through one location. This could make the procurement, usage and disposal of batteries more efficient by minimizing waste due to over procurement or shelf-life expiration. This is an example of a source reduction pollution prevention initiative.
It is important to measure the progress of your battery recycling program. This will enable you to see the actual performance of your program. For example, by maintaining an accurate record of the batteries procured, used, recycled, and disposed, you will be able to gain a realistic sense of the type, amount, and number of batteries in each of these process streams. Using this information, you can measure the progress of the program in a variety of ways, such as:
Number or percentage of batteries sent to recycler
Number or percentage of batteries reused
Number or percentage of batteries sent for disposal
Number or percentage of rechargeable batteries procured
Dollars saved in procurement and disposal costs using rechargeable batteries.
Using this information, the facility can establish and measure its progress toward these goals.
There are several qualitative topics which could be assessed during a typical progress measurement session. These topics include program costs and perfor-mance, employee participation, benefits realized and problems experienced, recycler service and performance, and other topics which the facility deems appropriate. When evaluating the program's progress, you should consider the following questions.
What percentage of employees who use batteries are participating in the program?
How much money is the program costing the facility as compared to the amount of money it's saving the facility?
Is the current battery recycler meeting the program's needs?
Has the facility incurred any additional costs in the overall program operation?
These additional costs could be in the areas of collection, storage, or recycling. If additional costs have been incurred, how can these costs be minimized or eliminated? Some states offer financial assistance to agencies who participate in recycling efforts. If you find that the employee participation is below what you expected, additional containers could be provided to help encourage participation.
In addition, current battery recyclers should be evaluated to see if they are meeting the program's needs. Reevaluate the recycler, using the same criterion that was used in your initial evaluation. By doing this, you can see how the recycler's current performance compares to past performance. This information can enable your facility to see if the current recycler is performing up to your facility's standards. Decisions on the future operation of your battery recycling program can be informatively made by using these and other guidelines to routinely evaluate your program.
State governments can also be consulted when dealing with battery recycling. The laws and regulations governing battery recycling and disposal differ from state to state. In addition, each state has a Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs. This office can provide a list of battery recyclers and information on your state's laws and regulations concerning battery recycling. Contact your Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs for more information on battery recycling in your state.
Recycling of non rechargeable batteries is still somewhat rare, but recycling used RECHARGEABLE household batteries is now possible! The battery manufacturers have funded a joint recycling center. To find a center near you that will take them, click here! (in the US or Canada))( Which types do they take? Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion), and Small Sealed Lead* (Pb) rechargeable batteries are commonly found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, digital cameras, two-way radios, camcorders and remote control toys.
Note that California is a bit of a special case. California regulations require recycling for more types of batteries than other states. See this page for detailed information about how and where to recycle batteries in California.
For more information about the program and the sponsors, click on Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation
If you can't find a location above:
Take the rechargeable batteries to any of the participating retailers. In the U.S.: Alltel, Batteries Plus, Best Buy, Black & Decker, Cingular Wireless, The Home Depot, Milwaukee Electric Tool, Orchard Supply, Porter Cable Service Center, RadioShack, Remington Product Company, Sears, Staples, Target, US Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and Wal-Mart. And in Canada: Battery Plus, Bell Mobility, Canadian Tire, FIDO/Microcell, Future Shop, The Home Depot, Home Hardware, London Drugs, Makita Factory Service Centers, Personal Edge/Centre du Rasoir, RadioShack Canada, Revy, Sasktel, Sears, The Sony Store, Telus Mobility and Zellers.
Use the RBRC collection site locator , or call the consumer helpline, 1-800-8-BATTERY, to find the retail collection site nearest you.
Non-rechargeable (typically "alkaline batteries") still don't have a recycler and general just must be disposed in the trash. If you have large quantities or are a business, talk with your permitted sanitary landfill operator (otherwise known as "sanitation services", the "dump" or "landfill"). Waste batteries should not be burned because of the metals, and they could explode. 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.
Click here for one more place to try to find a recycling location near you if none of the options above were suitable.