By Gene Kalb

I have a bag full of old batteries.  It used to be you could bring them to the camera store in Lexington, and they would recycle them.  The camera store is long gone, but for some reason, I keep collecting them.  I must have 100 old batteries.   I heard that you can “just throw them out.”  But it just doesn’t feel right.

So…. What is the appropriate way to dispose of old batteries?

We turn to Ed McGrath, Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator:

 What should you do with your alkaline batteries?

This question is an easy one. Alkaline batteries of all shapes and sizes can be disposed of in your trash. We’re talking about AA, AAA, C, D, 9 Volt and 6 Volt batteries.

Just so we’re clear, we’re talking about single-use batteries, not rechargeable batteries. Per the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection, batteries currently manufactured in the United States contain no mercury and can be disposed of in the trash – click this link to learn more. The major brands (Duracell, Energizer, Eveready, Walgreen’s) are manufactured in the US.

Other brands of batteries (Panasonic, Rayovac, CVS, other store brands, etc.) are manufactured overseas and will include language on the label indicating there is no mercury (chemical symbol Hg), cadmium (Cd) or lead (Pb). Batteries with this language can be thrown in the trash. You should check the package to find out where the batteries were manufactured.

If a battery is rechargeable or contains lithium, you may drop it off in the foyer of the  DPW building at 314 Great Road. The DPW collects Nickel Cadmium (NiCd), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), Lithium (Li), Sealed Lead Acid batteries and button batteries. The batteries are recycled at Batteries Plus Bulbs in Woburn.

About Recycling Know No’s:

Recycling is good.  It helps the environment, helps the town, and makes you feel you’re doing your part.  That being said, not all things are easy to recycle, no matter what you may think.  Putting your Styrofoam coffee cup in the bin might feel right, but is actually detrimental and costly to us in Bedford.  There are other things that fall into the category of “should” be recycled, but without understanding what happens “downstream,” your wishful thinking could end up causing more trouble.  You may not have been aware that all recycled material gets sorted, and one of the most cost-effective sorts happens at your bin. Understanding what happens after your recycling bucket has been collected can help make that downstream work easier.  Accordingly, we are embarking on a new series that hopefully will answer the “whys “ and “whats” of recycling here in Bedford.

The Bedford Citizen has teamed up with Ed McGrath from the Bedford Department of Public Works in a new segment called “Know-Nos of recycling” to explain what happens once you put something in the recycle bin. We’ll also explain why it’s so important to only put the correct stuff in your recycle bins.  If you have questions, please send them along. 

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