Are you a polluter?

When I asked someone if they know where I take the batteries to be recycled she looked puzzled and said “I always just throw mine away.”

So I realized it isn’t common knowledge that batteries shouldn’t be thrown away, and that they are contributing to the pollution in our food and our water. This is stuff I learned in my endless hours of autism research, and I just assumed everyone knew. So in case you don’t here is the info:

Batteries contain all kinds of toxic ingredients including mercury, cadmium, nickel, and lithium.

While some manufacturers have reduced or eliminated their use of mercury in consumer and commercial or industrial products, there are still many existing items in the marketplace that contain mercury.  Click here to find out which common household items contain mercury: 

And so what’s the problem with throwing away a little mercury?

Mercury, an element naturally found in the environment, is also a very serious toxin. Mercury can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system of people of all ages. It has been demonstrated that high levels of methylmercury in the bloodstream of unborn babies and young children may harm the nervous system and delay cognitive development.

The mercury goes into the environment and then into the food chain. How?  The mercury enters the environment and it eventually settles in the water. While in the water, microorganisms transform mercury to methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that can build up into high concentration in an organism. Every time the fish eat the microorganisms, they build up their methylmercury concentrations. Every organism that eats these fish is also building up their methylmercury levels.  So the cycle goes on and on, and essentially you are eating the batteries – see how I did that there?

Rechargeable Batteries
Rechargeable batteries are full of all types of toxic heavy metals, etc.  Luckily, the battery industry sponsors the operations of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Center (RBRC), which facilitates the collection of used rechargeable batteries collected in an industry-wide “take back” program for recycling.

And so you ask: Where do I recycle my batteries?

Call2Recycle® is the only free rechargeable battery and cell phone collection program in North America. Since 1994, Call2Recycle has diverted over 60 million pounds of rechargeable batteries from the solid waste stream and established a network of 30,000 collection sites. Advancing green business practices and environmental sustainability, Call2Recycle is the most active voice promoting eco-safe reclamation and recycling of rechargeable batteries and cell phones. Call2Recycle is operated by RBRC, a non-profit organization.

Recycling of non rechargeable batteries is becoming more commonplace, but it can still be a challenge to find a local drop-off location.  If you type your zipcode into the drop off center locator on this website you can  find the nearest spot to recycle your alkaline batteries:

Older Batteries Should Always Be Recycled
Old batteries that were made before 1997—when Congress mandated a widespread mercury phase-out in batteries of all types—should most surely be recycled and not discarded with the trash, as they may contain as much as 10 times the mercury of newer versions.

Every little bit helps. I hope you will do your part in trying to clean up our environment and preventing further pollution 🙂

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kate Giacomini
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 23:41:31


    Great post. I’m worried about this too. We’ve found that a local Radio Shack will take non-rechargeable batteries for recycling, but the City of Denver doesn’t have a recycling program.



    • Super Mom Jess
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 13:53:58

      Thanks Kate. It is definitely a slow process to get everyone aware of how much they are contributing to pollution. We have to worry about light bulbs too. Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury and aren’t supposed to be thrown away but most break before they are properly disposed of anyway. Several foreign countries have made battery recycling mandatory, hopefully we can all get with the program and make our landfills safer. 🙂


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January 2011
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