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There are ways to keep alkaline batteries out of landfills

I called the trash company about how to get rid of my old, used alkaline batteries and was told to just throw them into the black barrel, as they will probably be sorted out later. I'm kind of lost, as I thought it was a no-no to do that. Am I right or wrong?

— Lila W., Medford

You know, Lila, until television manufacturers figure out how to power remote controls on human sloth, we're stuck with double-As.

Despite the ubiquity of alkalines over the past few decades, we here at Since You Asked didn't know the right way to get rid of them, so we checked with Denise Barnes, recycling coordinator for Rogue Disposal and Recycling.

"Households can legally put them in the trash," Barnes said. "They don't have any dangerous metals."

Barnes explained that alkaline batteries haven't contained dangerous heavy metals such as mercury since 1994. She also said batteries aren't sorted out from the trash.

"If you put something in your garbage can, it is going to the landfill," Barnes said. "In fact, it's there the same day."

She also clarified that businesses have different requirements from households.

"Because batteries are so abundant, they fall under what's called a 'universal waste rule,' " Barnes said. "They're not considered hazardous waste, but they still have to be managed."

Barnes outlined extra steps you can take if you'd rather keep those spent clicker-juice packs out of the landfill. Unfortunately, none of them are as simple as tossing them in the commingled recycling, but according to www.jcrecyclingdirectory.org, mail-in alkaline battery disposal kits are available for a fee from Grainger Industrial Supply in Medford or online from www.thinkgreenfromhome.org.

If you just want to drop them off, Interstate Batteries in Central Point accepts them for a fee, or the Ashland ACE Hardware store accepts batteries of all kinds at no charge. If you can wait until next spring, Barnes said, Rogue Disposal accepts them during its annual household hazardous waste event in May.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.