Most household batteries no longer require recycling
County will still collect ‘button batteries’
FREEHOLD, NJ – Due to legislative mandates and improved manufacturing techniques, most common household batteries have little or no toxic content anymore and recycling them is no longer necessary. Therefore, it’s OK to throw your old batteries out with the trash.
Beginning Oct. 15, the County Household Hazardous Waste Program will no longer accept any common household batteries, with the exception of the small “button batteries” used in many of the smaller electronic devices such as watches, calculators and specialty toys and games.
“Stricter transportation rules require that we spend more time and resources to sort and prepare these batteries for shipment to recycling facilities, making continuation of the household battery recycling program prohibitively expensive,” Freeholder Director Barbara J. McMorrow said. “Fortunately, these new transportation rules come at a time when the need to segregate most of these household batteries is becoming increasingly academic.”
The new rules are a response to several incidents where battery terminals touch and short circuit causing serious fires during shipment. The U.S. Department of Transportation has instituted new transport rules mandating that batteries be individually bagged and/or battery terminals taped. This new transport rule, currently voluntary, will become mandatory by the end of 2009.
“The new sorting, bagging and taping requirements would add considerable expense to a program already costing the county more than $100,000 annually, or about $1 per pound of batteries handled,” said Larry Zaayenga, Monmouth County’s Solid Waste Coordinator. “This program began more than 20 years ago to reduce the amounts of toxic and heavy metals disposed in our landfill.”
For years, Monmouth County has worked with municipalities to separate and recycle common carbon-zinc and alkaline batteries (A, AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt), as well as other types of household batteries. Rechargeable and button batteries were also accepted through this collection program.
The County is asking municipalities and other public institutions to immediately remove the older household battery collection containers from local schools, libraries and other facilities, and return any accumulated batteries to the county HHW Program before Oct. 15, 2009. New containers, specially designed and labeled for “button batteries” will be available in a few months.
Non-rechargeable household batteries should now be disposed with regular household trash. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), an industry-sponsored group, will continue to accept rechargeable household batteries in special collection boxes provided at numerous retail outlets (visit www.rbrc.org for a comprehensive listing). The only batteries the county will continue to accept are the small button batteries, which still contain significant amounts of mercury.
“Monmouth County has always been at the forefront of recycling in New Jersey and our residents have done a remarkable job over the years,” McMorrow said. “I thank the residents and the municipalities for their efforts, and particularly with the recycling of old batteries, and I ask them to continue to recycle the button batteries and properly dispose their rechargeable batteries.”