Additional Ways to help the Environment When Using and Disposing of Batteries
Source Reduction Changes in Household Batteries
Read labels. Mercury reduction in batteries began in 1984 and continues today. Some batteries such as the alkaline battery have had about a 97 percent mercury reduction in the product. Newer alkaline batteries may contain about one-tenth the amount of mercury previously contained in the typical alkaline battery. Some alkaline batteries have zero-added mercury, and several mercury-free, heavy-duty, carbon-zinc batteries are on the market.
Mercuric-oxide batteries are being gradually replaced by new technology such as silver-oxide and zinc-air button batteries that contain less mercury.
Nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries are being researched. Alternatives such as cadmium free nickel and nickel-hydride system are being researched, but nickel-cadmium are unlikely to be totally replaced. Nickel-cadmium batteries can be reprocessed to reclaim the nickel. However, currently approximately 80 percent of all nickel-cadmium batteries are permanently sealed in appliances. Changing regulations may result in easier access to the nickel-cadmium batteries for recycling.
Prevention of Household Battery Waste
To reduce waste, start with prevention. Starting with prevention creates less or no leftover waste to become potentially hazardous waste. The following are steps to take to prevent household battery waste.
Rechargeable batteries result in a longer life span and use fewer batteries. However rechargeable batteries still contain heavy metals such as nickel-cadmium. When disposing of rechargeable batteries, recycle if possible.
The use of rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries can reduce the number of batteries entering the waste stream, but may increase the amount of heavy metals entering the waste stream unless they are more effectively recycled. As of 1992, the percentage of cadmium in nickel-cadmium batteries was higher than the percentage of mercury in alkaline batteries, so substitution might only replace one heavy metal for another, and rechargeable batteries do use energy resources in recharging.
Rechargeable alkaline batteries are available along with rechargers.
Additional Tips for Longest Life Use of Batteries
Turn off any battery-operated appliances when not in use
Remove batteries from appliances if they are not going to be used for a long time.
To prevent a potential safety hazard, do not mix old batteries with new ones. When old and new batteries are mixed, leaking or rupturing could occur, possibly resulting in injury or property damage
Do not recharge a battery unless it is specifically marked rechargeable. Attempting to recharge a non-rechargeable battery can cause it to leak or rupture
Do not dispose of batteries in a fire it may cause them to explode.
Do not open battery casings
Do not insert batteries backwards into any device
Rechargeable batteries containing cadmium or lead should be recycled.