Battery recycling

Do you have a pile of used household batteries hidden in your junk drawer or a coffee can in the garage? You know you should be environmentally responsible and recycle them, but you aren't sure where to start, so the pile grows larger.

But did you also know that extra precautions are required when storing and recycling batteries? Some retain a residual charge even after they can no longer properly power a device. These batteries can be a safety risk because their power has not been completely used up and they can combust or spark, causing a fire or other safety incident.

That's why it's important for anyone with used batteries to embrace some simple safety tips when storing them.

1. Bag each battery in its own clear plastic bag before placing it in a storage container. If a bag isn't available, you can tape the terminals with clear packing, non-conductive electrical or duct tape. Avoid masking, painter and Scotch tape; opaque bags or any wax products. Make sure the label is visible.

2. Store the batteries in a cool, dry place. Incidents can occur when batteries (or the devices they power such as a cellphone or tablet) are exposed to inclement or excessively hot weather. Store them in a plastic container; avoid metal or cardboard.

3. Keep an eye out for damaged batteries. If you see a swollen or bulging battery, immediately put it in a non-flammable material such as sand or kitty litter and put it in a cool, dry place. Do not dispose of it in the trash. Contact the battery's manufacturer or retailer immediately for instructions, especially if the label says it is lithium or lithium-ion.

4. Drop them off within six months. Store old batteries no longer than six months. Make sure they are bagged or taped before dropping them off for recycling. Retailers such as The Home Depot, Lowe's and Staples accept them for recycling.

All household batteries can be recycled. In particular, metals in rechargeable batteries can be repurposed into other products such as new batteries, stainless steel pans and golf clubs. By recycling, you can be assured that your used batteries will be kept out of the landfill.

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