TIP: Remember to recycle dead batteries

It’s a fact that all batteries, even rechargeable ones, wear out eventually. As wonderful as all our gadgets are, they produce a constant stream of used, useless batteries. Unfortunately, batteries are full of all sorts of nasty metals like mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead, things that are poisonous to people and animals.

Some states and cities have laws requiring that all batteries be disposed of properly, but even if you don’t live in one of those places it’s a good idea to keep batteries out of the trash. Most cities and towns bury their trash and there’s a risk those batteries could eventually leak. If you live somewhere where trash is burned, treating those burning chemicals is expensive and dangerous. It’s just common sense.

But… these things came from the ground, right?

That’s the question most frequently asked. Of course every component inside a battery comes from the ground originally. However, heavy metals like lead and cadmium have to be processed to purify them, and that processing makes them even more poisonous. Also remember that many of these metals are mined from deep in the ground, where they don’t affect the local water supply.

If there’s a question as to whether or not you should throw something in the garbage… don’t. If it has copper wire, gold connectors, a battery, indicator light or LCD screen, it belongs in the “e-cycle” bin, not in the trash. A lot of those materials can be sold, reducing the cost of future gadgets. Other bits can be safely dismantled, which gives jobs to people.

And of course, there’s another benefit to recycling your old electronics… more space on the shelf for new electronics!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.