How to properly dispose of batteries

It may be easy to pluck dead batteries out of the TV remote, then turn around and throw them in the garbage, but what is easy is not always right. 

Instead, throw your batteries into a plastic bag and put them on your compost bin by the curb on collection day, and send them to be efficiently recycled. 

“The industry has changed considerably now that there is the recycling method to recover batteries. Not only the metal inside, but the battery contents can be recycled as well,” said Waste Management program planning supervisor Trevor Barton. 

Recycling may be a bit of a hassle, what with flattening down cardboard or sorting bottles and cans, but it is by far the best way of doing things. A battery thrown in the garbage can contaminate groundwater and poison an area of soil. A properly recycled battery will have another life after death with a new electronic device as well as a much smaller ecological footprint.

Region of Peel has a schedule of battery collection for any household in Mississauga, Brampton or Caledon with information of when to put out a bag full of empty batteries. 

We already pay for them to be recycled, so why not follow through with a small amount of effort. “As purchasers [of batteries, we] are actually paying an environmental levy when we buy single-use batteries,” said Barton, “That money goes in to fund these types of programs, and it really does help in getting them diverted from landfills.”

The Region of Peel has 74 collection barrels scattered around the region in libraries, community centres, and retailers. There are also six recycling centres for free drop off for the batteries that are bigger or rechargeable.

Batteries come in all shapes and sizes, and many types of batteries are not fit for collection day. Cell phone, car, power tool, and any other rechargeable batteries need to be recycled differently because of the different chemicals within them. 

“They are more of a hazard because they can contain nickel and cadmium. There is a different type of market, they have to be separated differently,” said Barton. “They still hold a charge so they must come through a return-to-vendor, or through our hazardous waste depot. It is a different type of battery.” 

While it might be easier to give dead batteries the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ treatment by immediately throwing them away, it is much better to hold on to them and dispose of them properly through the correct channels. There are tons of reasons to practice efficient recycling, and not nearly as many against.