Thursday, October 12, 2006

We interrupt this blog for an important environmental bulletin

It's inevitable--from time to time, you get blogger's block and aren't inspired enough to create a decent post. In that event, you have two choices: take a day off or somehow find something to write about.

I don't like option 1, because I want to be able to take days off when I plan to, not when the blog-wizard is interfering with my brainwaves.

That leaves option 2. What to write about? Well, I can write about what's on my mind, whether it has anything to do with my blog's subject.

And what's on my mind is... batteries.

Those devices that power your calculator, watch, mobile phone, toys, golf cart, automobile, etc. They are everywhere. More and more batteries are sold every year, and every year we rely on them more. In 1998, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, consumers bought three billion batteries. One can assume that a similar number were sold in the EU countries. And that was before we all had iPods!

So, yesterday, I was at Batteries Plus replacing my dead car battery. And the best thing they did was to take my old battery and recycle it.

I asked myself: do I recycle the dozens of batteries that our family goes through every year? Answer: no. They go in the trash.

So I did some research. Listen to this statement from the EPA:

Though batteries generally make up only a tiny portion of municipal solid waste (MSW)—less than 1 percent—they account for a disproportionate amount of the toxic heavy metals in MSW. (For example, EPA has reported that, as of 1995, nickel-cadmium batteries accounted for 75 percent of the cadmium found in MSW.)

Here are some facts I wasn't aware of:

  1. Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) rechargeable batteries are classified as hazardous waste--they are the most harmful to the environment if not recycled.
  2. Lead-acid batteries (typically used in cars) contain components that are easy to reuse, and as such are easy recycling candidates.
  3. Watch/calculator batteries often contain silver and mercury--bad materials for landfills or incinerators.
Want to stop throwing away your batteries? Check this link for battery-recycling drop-off points near you (sorry, this list is US only).

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