Why do we have to bring batteries to a specific place to recycle them instead of just being able to throw them out/recycle them at home?


Why do we have to bring batteries to a specific place to recycle them instead of just being able to throw them out/recycle them at home?

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For the large part, batteries are such a small waste issue that it doesn’t make sense to have trucks specifically to pick them up running around neighborhoods a few times a month, and they’re generally portable enough that it’s easy to pack a small bag of them along a routine grocery store trip.

The batteries will be taken to a facility where they can melt the more valuable kinds down and recover useful metals like lithium and cobalt. You can’t obviously do that at home. Some batteries may contain chemicals that are toxic to the environment like lead and cadmium. If they are contained, then pollution gets reduced.

To have any chance at recycling, trash needs to be separated by type. It isn’t economic for a business to sort through mixed trash and find batteries or other types of valuables in there. You can probably throw out single use alkaline-maganese or zinc-carbon cells because they don’t have valuable elements in them.

Disposal of these batteries to a landfill is harmful as they may corrode and release lead and lead contaminated sulfuric acid into the environment. This can eventually pollute the drinking water sources. If incinerated, toxic fumes are produced.

Bring them to Target which accepts batteries for proper disposal.

Most other common recyclables – plastic, cardboard, bottles, cans, paper – are consumed frequently enough that it makes sense to dedicate a weekly truck pickup in many neighborhoods. But not many homes go through a recycling container’s worth of batteries over the course of a year, let alone in a week or two. And other than large batteries like for a car, batteries are small and light. It’s not a big deal to toss used batteries in a small box and then take them to a recycling point once or twice a year (or even less frequently). But it would be a big deal to either dedicate a vehicle weekly or twice a month just to pick up a small number of batteries, and batteries should not be thrown into a mixed pile of recyclables because of how those piles are sorted (magnets are used to pull metal out of the pile – adding batteries to the mix would require at least a few labor intensive extra steps in the separation process and any batteries that snuck by would present a hazard to the metal reclaiming process. Basically, while it’s a good idea to recycle batteries, it’s not worth trying to separate them or trying to regularly collect them separately.

It really depends on the kind of battery and where you are located.

Single use batteries like generic AA or AAA batteries are not generally recycled or otherwise reused to the policy is generally to toss them in the trash with the rest of your garbage .

Things like car batteries, electric vehicle batteries, phone/laptop lithium ion batteries, or other large batteries are generally recycled either because they contain precious metals that can be reclaimed cost effectively or because they are much larger and contain more potently toxic chemicals than a Duracell does.