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Rechargeable Batteries are Worth It: Waste Hero Image

Rechargeable Batteries are Worth It: Waste

20 July 2017


Time to beat the horse again. It's not dead enough for my liking.

If saving money isn't motivation enough for you to buy rechargeable batteries, maybe saving the environment is.

As I touched upon in the first post of this series, rechargeable batteries are inherently eco-friendly. Disposables not so much. According to the EPA (which I think is still around, although I haven't checked Twitter recently), in America alone more than 3 billion batteries are thrown away each year. 180,000 tons of batteries, many of which are of the single-use alkaline variety. You know, the kind I have it in for.

20 percent of the hazardous household waste in our country's landfills is made up of AA, C, and D cell batteries. They're just filling in all those gaps between old refrigerators, Commodore 64s, Dodge Darts.

But they're not just sitting there. Oh, no. They're leaking and leaching heavy metals like nickel, cadmium, cobalt, and lead into the ground and water. Cadmium and nickel are known human carcinogens, and we all know what lead can do to the human brain. This stuff gets into the drinking water and also eventually makes its way to the ocean...the same ocean we eat from.


Current state laws forbidding the disposal of disposable batteries are a start, but no one's picking through trash bags to make sure we're in compliance. Plenty of programs exist that are intended to make recycling batteries easier, but I argue that the best solution is to simply stop buying batteries that get thrown away.

Sure we are playing your heart strings with landfill photos, but even if you don't care about that, you wouldn't throw your hard earned money in a landfill would you? Well, if you are buying alkaline batteries that's exactly what you are doing. I know, not cool. 

Ready to make the switch? Check out some rechargeable battery options.

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Liz Hudson October 24, 2019

I didn’t realize that disposable batteries were leaking carcinogenic substances like cadmium and nickel into the ground water. I’ve been trying to be more careful about what I throw away and recycle lately. I will definitely keep in mind the negative effects disposable batteries can have and look for rechargeable options to avoid polluting our landfills. http://www.mwaste.com.au/sizes-and-applications

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Warren April 08, 2018

In my industry (pro audio) we use and throw away a lot of AA batteries used in wireless microphones. It’s simply the way it is for this niche market and even though some attempts have been made to bring rechargeable systems to the market, they often don’t work for practical reasons. I used to try to deposit batteries at IKEA and other places that take them but a couple years ago most places stopped. Then I took a look at the manufacturer websites. Most of them say that their alkaline batteries are now “clean” enough that you can just throw them in the regular trash; everywhere except California.