April 27, 2011

FYI: Battery Disposal and Recycling

Battery-operated gadgets, ranging from cell phones and PDAs to TV remote controls and home fire alarms, are a ubiquitious feature of modern life. What is to be done with all of those batteries once they no longer work?
The Big Green Box is a program for recycling batteries.  The program accepts both non-rechargeable batteries (such as alkaline batteries) and rechargeable batteries (such as NiCd and NiMH batteries).  Many stores, corporations, universities, and governmental organizations participate in the program—for example, some Whole Foods Market, IKEA, and Walgreens locations participate and allow you to drop off your batteries to be recycled. 
There currently seems to be no central web page that lists Big Green Box battery recycling program locations—there is a partial list of participants on their website, but currently you must call your local Whole Foods, IKEA, Walgreens, or other potential participants to find out if they are actively accepting batteries to be recycled. 
If there are no Big Green Box program participants in your area you can start your own Big Green Box program.  Prices start at $58 for one recycling box, which includes the price of shipping the box to you and the price for shipping the box full of batteries back to Big Green Box to be recycled.  A law firm or law library could potentially increase their foot traffic and visibility and earn green PR points by being listed as a local battery recycling drop-off center—perhaps other local businesses and institutions could pitch in to cover the expense.
For recycling rechargeable batteries and used cell phones, enter your zip code into the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC)’s website to find the nearest RBRC rechargeable battery and used cell phone collection center.  Batteries Plus stores are often RBRC recycling drop-off locations, and also accept lead acid batteries for recycling.  Sears, Radio Shack, Office Depot, Home Depot, and other stores are also often RBRC partners—once again, collection centers in your area can be found by entering your zip code into the collection center locator on the RBRC’s website.
For more information on recycling cell phones and computers, see our other FYIs:
  • FYI: How to Dispose of your Mobile Phone

  • FYI: How to Dispose of Computer Equipment

  • Other resources:
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency, information on battery disposal
  • Battery Recycling, Earth 911
  • Battery Council International Website