The Importance of Recycling Batteries (and how to do it in Springfield, MO)
What do pacemakers, cars, cell phones, and remote controls have in common? If you guessed that they all run on batteries, you are correct! Batteries have changed the way we live our lives. They help us hear when in hearing aids, they protect us from fire when in smoke detectors, they save our lives when in various kinds of medical equipment, they help our children learn and play when in toys, and they just generally make life more convenient, to name a few things. There are many reasons to appreciate batteries, but what should we do when they run out of charge?
As amazing as batteries are, they are also full of toxic chemicals and can be a fire hazard if not stored or disposed of properly. Throwing batteries into the landfill creates the potential for fires and wastes non-renewable critical resources. Check out more details below about the reasons to keep your batteries out of the trash bin and how you can do that in the Springfield area.
Reasons NOT to throw batteries in the trash
1. Landfill fires
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, since 2013 lithium-ion batteries, the rechargeable batteries often found in devices such as cell phones, laptops, wireless headphones, power tools, toys, and even electric vehicles, have been the cause of at least 139 landfill fires and multiple other fires that occurred during waste transport or in recycling facilities. These fires can result in delays of service, injury, financial loss for the municipality affected, and potential for exposure to harmful toxins to enter the air and water sources.
2. House fires
Lithium-ion batteries are also the most common batteries to ignite house fires. There have been cases, however, where small voltage batteries like AA and AAA have sparked fires when both ends of the battery were accidentally placed against metal. Fires can be started by 9-volt batteries when metal touches the two posts on the top of the battery. These types of battery fires can be prevented by storing batteries properly, even after they are no longer able to power devices since they may still contain small charges. To do this, make sure not to store batteries loosely and place tape (such as duct tape or electrical tape) on the ends of batteries that are being stored without a package. The tape will act as a barrier that prevents currents from passing from battery posts.
3. Exposure to toxic chemicals
Batteries can leak battery acid which contains toxic chemicals that can vary by battery type. Most types of battery acid are corrosive and can cause irritation and burns if it comes in contact with skin. If ingested, battery acid can cause a variety of extensive problems including injury to various parts of the digestive tract as well as to one’s ears, nose, eyes, throat, and mouth. Leaked battery acid can also contaminate soil and water.
4. Batteries can be recycled
Modern technology is dependent on batteries. Without them we would not have the cell phones, laptops, or other electronics that we have come to rely on. Many batteries contain metals that are considered non-renewable and are, therefore, very limited in quantity. In addition to this, mining processes for metals found in batteries can be environmentally disastrous. When we recycle batteries, we conserve these limited resources and decrease the amount that must be mined.
How to recycle batteries in the Ozarks
The chart below, from the City of Springfield’s recycling guide, shows the various locations where batteries are accepted for recycling. Different places may accept different types of batteries. If you have questions, be sure to contact the recycler.