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Battery recycling is now easier than ever

Sedona Red Rock News of Sedona, Arizona

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Battery recycling hasn't always been easy. Those of you who have been frequenting the recycling center for many years may remember the 55-gallon drum filled with batteries that used to sit in our entry way.

This barrel was our worst nightmare. It was heavy, toxic, and expensive to dispose of. Back then we didn't have a way to truly recycle batteries.

The only option was to pay $ 1 per pound to have them buried at the hazardous waste landfill in Flagstaff, where they would spend all of eternity sitting in an underground concrete box. Not exactly the stuff that recycling dreams are made of.

Luckily we were able to find the nation's only recycler of both disposable and rechargeable batteries. Although we still have to pay to safely recycle the batteries we receive- 65)4 per pound plus shipping-at least we know we are paying to have these batteries truly recycled into new items. Read on to find out how and why you should recycle your batteries.

Batteries 101

Every year Americans buy nearly 3 billion household batteries to power their gadgets.

Approximately one-fifth of these batteries are rechargeable, while the remainder last just one charge. Both disposable and rechargeable batteries contain some pretty nasty heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, zinc, manganese and nickel, so it is important to consider how you dispose of them.

Batteries contribute approximately 88 percent of the total mercury and 50 percent of the cadmium in the solid waste stream. These and other heavy metals may leach from landfills or vaporize when burned in incinerators and pollute soil, water and air. It is possible to keep these toxic metals from polluting the environment by recycling your batteries.

All batteries can and should be recycled. Americans now recycle over 99 percent of auto batteries, but very few household batteries are recycled. In 2010, Call2Recycle, the nation's only free rechargeable battery recycler, collected 3,350 tons of rechargeable batteries, a 10.1 percent increase over 2009, but this accounts for only a fraction of the estimated 14,000 tons of rechargeable batteries that die each year.

Disposable batteries make up an even greater chunk of the waste stream, with 180,000 tons discarded each year and very few of these recycled. The Environmental Protection Agency says you can throw away your alkaline batteries, but we disagree. While mercury has been phased out of disposable alkaline batteries, reducing the environmental risks of improper disposal, these batteries can still be recycled into useful items like rebar.

The heavy metals in rechargeable and button cell batteries pose more of an environmental threat, but all the metals used in these batteries can be separated during the recycling process and used in rcmanufacturing, sometimes even becoming part of new rechargeable batteries. Plastic casings, such as those found on uninterrupted power supply units, can be recycled into new battery casings.

Battery Recycling in Sedona

Recycling your batteries is easier than ever. Sedona Recycles is now collecting batteries seven days a week inside our facility during business hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. As a result, the monthly battery collection events at New Frontiers Natural Marketplace will no longer take place. Just bring along your batteries whenever you do the rest of your household recycling. Auto batteries can be recycled at local auto parts stores.

The new battery recycling station clearly shows how to separate your batteries into two, easy-to-understand categories. Separating your batteries makes a big difference for the staff and volunteers that sort through the batteries we receive. Please weigh your batteries using the provided scale and consider making a $1 per pound donation to help offset the costs of true battery recycling. Our friendly staff is always available to help answer your questions about recycling batteries and any other items we accept.

The battery recycling station was made possible by a generous grant from the Sedona 30, as part of a new educational and collection center inside the Sedona Recycles facility. The new collection center is part of our constant goal to make recycling as easy and accessible as possible.

So come on down, bring those stray batteries, and come see the improvements that are making recycling easier than ever. That's what we're here for.

For more information on our new battery recycling station, contact us at 204-1185.

' Serving Sedona, written this week by Meghan Kincheloe, director of community development, Sedona Recycles, appears Wednesday in the Sedona Red Rock News.

Original Publication Date: January 18, 2012

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