Attending the April 4 recycling program, third in the Bethesda Goes Green! series on the environment sponsored by Friends of the Bethesda Library, I learned something surprising about recycling batteries in Montgomery County that, frankly, relieved my guilt. It’s ok to pitch regular household batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt) in the trash, which I was doing discretely, hoping no one would notice and call me on doing a bad thing.
If you don’t believe me, go to the source: the county webpage titled “Batteries: Hazardous Waste or Not?” explains that “alkaline and heavy-duty (zinc carbon) batteries . . . found in general household use can be safely disposed of in the regular trash if they were purchased after mid-1996″ when manufacturers stopped using mercury as an ingrediant.
So, what we learned from Saskia Mooney, a regulatory analyst with Wiley Rein, speaking on behalf of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), is that we need to recycle worn out rechargeable batteries commonly used for cell phones, computers, cameras, laptops, power tools, etc. According to the County, “the battery types that continue to require special disposal are: rechargeable nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, small sealed and automotive lead acid batteries, and lithium, mercuric oxide, silver oxide batteries.”
RBRC sponsors a free recycling program for retailers and lists local drop-off locations that will accept used rechargeable batteries and cell phones. In addition, Saskia donated a special box for recycling rechargeable batteries to Bethesda Green, so you can bring your old batteries to us for recycling.