A battery is an electrochemical device that converts chemical energy to electrical energy, which provides power to electronic devices. Approximately 3 billion batteries are sold annually in the United States; the average family purchases 32 batteries every year. Individuals dispose of about eight household batteries per year. Because they contain heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and nickel, batteries can contaminate the environment if not disposed of properly. Old batteries may pollute lakes and streams, release corrosive acids, expose water to lead, and burn the skin and eyes upon contact. Some of the most frequently disposed batteries include alkaline batteries from household appliances and electronics, car batteries and laptop batteries.
Old alkaline batteries (A, AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, etc.) can be safely disposed of with everyday household waste; however, large amounts of these batteries should not be disposed together. Because old batteries may not be completely "dead," grouping them together can bring "live" batteries into contact with one another, creating a safety risk. Although some communities offer collection and recycling of alkaline batteries, many do not because the process is not very efficient or cost effective.
An old car battery could be worth something if you take it to a place that offers either cash or a store credit. Most places that will buy an old battery will offer only a few dollars for it; however, some locations will pay up to $5. Metal recyclers will often offer cash for old batteries, while an auto parts store may provide you with a store credit. Auto repair shops that refurbish and resell old batteries may offer you the most money for a dead battery.
Because of the increasing use of laptop computers, the number of old laptop batteries is also growing. Some computer manufacturers will take back old batteries, replacing them with new ones at no charge. Several national organizations, such as Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp., collect and recycle old laptop batteries. Drop-off sites can often be found near computer stores, shopping malls and schools. Information about local collection sites in specific cities and towns is often available at landfills, town halls or city public works departments.
Recharging And Reusing Old Batteries
Purchasing rechargeable batteries helps reduce the number of old batteries that are discarded; in the United States, approximately one in five dry-cell batteries purchased is rechargeable. Rechargeable batteries are identifiable by the battery recycling seal displayed on the packaging. You can also use old batteries in creative ways, such as gluing a collection of dead alkaline batteries of various sizes onto a round form and using it as a door stopper. Smaller versions make excellent paper weights that not only help control desktop clutter. but also keep more batteries from ending up in landfills.
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