In a recent column, you discussed disposal of electronic equipment and mentioned in passing that batteries were not good for landfills. How does one properly dispose of batteries (for hearing aids, remotes, CD players, radios, clocks, etc.)?
— Sylvia S., Medford
Thanks to the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996, alkaline and button-cell batteries — which we assume is what you're referring to, Sylvia — no longer contain mercury and can be thrown out with the rest of the trash.
Nonetheless, they are not biodegradable, and recycling options are available if you're willing to make an effort and, in some cases, pay a small fee.
"It is legal for a household to throw alkaline batteries in the garbage, or they can bring them to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection (held the first weekend in May)," said Denise Barnes, recycling coordinator for Rogue Disposal.
Several local businesses will recycle your old batteries for free, including Ashland's Ace Hardware. Others charge a nominal fee, including Batteries Interstate, which charges $1.50 per pound of alkaline batteries. For a list of locations, see www.jcsmartworks.org/directory/recycle.
Alkaline batteries contain zinc and manganese concentrates, which can be used in fertilizers, as well as steel, said Justin Jungman, an executive account manager for Batteries Solutions LLC, based in Michigan.
Batteries Solutions sells iRecycle kits that make it easy for businesses and households to recycle dry-cell batteries. The smallest kit holds 5 pounds of batteries, includes postage and costs about $30.