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Battery Day puts focus on proper recycling

Today’s MI Environment edition ahead of Battery Day (February 18) is based on a recent message from our friends at the Recycling Raccoons, with input from Steve Noble, electronics recycling specialist at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

The tops of a group of multi-colored batteries.

If you’re the type who gets fired up about recycling common household materials, you should also get a charge out of properly handling batteries that have lost their juice. While the exact guidance can depend on the type of battery, one rule is consistent no matter where you live in Michigan: Batteries are NOT collected through curbside recycling. That’s because certain batteries (lithium ion) can still have enough charge to spark and cause a fire at recycling facilities, resulting in extensive damage to equipment and critical infrastructure. Others can contain toxic chemicals that endanger recycling center workers.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t otherwise help give new life to those dead batteries. Most households use three main types: alkaline, which power items such as flashlights or TV remote controls; rechargeable versions of those standard alkaline batteries; and lithium-ion, found in gadgets such as mobile phones, laptops and vape pens.

Here are some tips and considerations on how you can boost the environment and the economy by recycling batteries the right way:

All batteries are recyclable.

While some batteries, such as today’s alkaline variety, are safe to include in your regular household trash, most are not because of the chemicals they contain. Regardless, recycling is always the best option. As with any other material, battery recycling frees up landfill space and gives manufacturers resources for making new products. Some companies even specialize in helping households recycle their old batteries.

When In doubt, contact your local recycling provider.

While batteries should not go in curbside recycling bins, it’s always best to check with your local provider for specific rules. Some recycling drop-off centers have special receptacles for batteries, and many municipalities hold hazardous waste collection events where you can safely dispose of used batteries. Check out this list of county recycling and household hazardous waste contacts to find a collection site near you. For more details, check out the batteries section of EGLE’s Household Hazardous Waste web page.

Check with local tool centers and retailers.

Stores such as Ace Hardware, Best Buy, Batteries Plus Bulbs, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Staples also often offer recycling options to customers, including for rechargeable batteries such as those used in tools and cell phones. Many locations participate in the national Call2Recycle program, which maintains a list of drop-off locations. Call2Recycle also offers shipping options if there’s not a collection location near you. You can also search the Michigan Recycling Directory to find other nearby collection options and events.

Take your car battery back to where you bought It.

It’s illegal to put lead acid batteries (such as those used in cars and boats) in Michigan landfills. But any business that sells them is also required to collect them for recycling.