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Recycling 101

Fri, Jul 9th, 2010
Posted in Home & Garden

Batteries...... each of us owns several electronic devices that require batteries. Three billion, yes BILLION, batteries are sold each year in the United States. That is somewhere between thirty and forty per family. We all know that sooner or later all those batteries, even the rechargeable ones, lose their usefulness and are discarded. The proper disposal of dead batteries can be confusing.

Can they be discarded with the landfill garbage, or must they be recycled? If they are to be recycled, DO NOT send them with your regular recycling. They are not recyclable fiber. They are not recyclable rigids. They are, however, a form of hazardous waste. They can be brought to the Resource Recovery Center or to my office in Preston at any time. Many Fillmore County residents have made it a habit to bring their batteries to Hazardous Household Waste Day.

Batteries many contain cadmium, mercury, copper, zinc, lead, manganese, nickel, and lithium. These nasty creatures can easily get into our air and water if buried or burned. Burning not only releases the deadly gasses into the air, but burning batteries have been known to explode creating a shrapnel effect.

Here in Fillmore County, most alkaline "flashlight batteries" can be disposed of in the trash, but if you are not sure, recycle them. Rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries found in some toys, cellular phones, power tools, and computer packs must be recycled. Sealed lead acid batteries are rechargeable and commonly used in video cameras, power tools, wheelchairs, ATV's, and metal detectors, as well as some clocks and cameras. These are not meant for landfill. Lead acid vehicle batteries (12 volt) must be recycled.

If you are still confused, or perhaps more confused, contact me at lpaulson@co.fillmore.mn.us or stop by and chat with me. If you are a member of a group that would like me to further explain the What, How, Why, and Where of recycling in Fillmore County, I would be more than willing to do so. Please remember, when it doubt, don't just throw it out with the garbage, recycle it. If more than one battery occupies the same container, hopefully a plastic bag or plastic coffee can, you may want to put a small piece of tape on the terminals to avoid accidental contact.

Only one in six households disposes of batteries correctly. I think Fillmore County can do much better. That cute, little button battery from your watch or hearing aid, as small as it is, can be quite harmful to the environment. It is not meant to be simply thrown away, it is meant to be recycled.

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