Trashing batteries, light bulbs

Is it ok to throw batteries (regular type C, AA, etc) into the regular trash that goes to the landfill, or is there a more proper way to get rid o’ them?

Also, I’ve heard that when my compact florescent bulbs burn out I’m supposed to do something special with them. What do I do?

I will chuck any common battery’s but the rechargeable ones need to be brought into a recycling center. Most retailers in my area that sell also collect them
The florescent bulbs most definitely need to be disposed of properly. Ask about it where you buy the new one’s.

Where are you located?

In California, all batteries are considered “universal hazardous waste” and it’s illegal to dispose of them in your household trash. Likewise fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescents.

You’re required to take them to a household hazmat recycling site, or to any retailer that will accept them. Generally speaking, drugstores with 1-hour photo labs and hardware stores will take used batteries.

Most office buildings also have battery collection bins.

Call your local recycling center and dump. I save them up then dispose of then at the dump’s designated collection center about once a year when they have foam recycling day.

Do you have a cite for California considering alkaline batteries as being “Universal hazardous waste”? :dubious:
Going to the source I find these comments:

Note the second paragraph, they tell you not to collect a bunch of them together.
And from the bunny:

Duracell cite

The bunny’s PDF

I know of no recycling project for either carbon zinc or alkaline batteries. I was in Lowe’s yesterday and saw their battery recycling box. It was for rechargeable batteries, not single use batteries.

Pay no attention to that rabbit.

From that page: As of February 8, 2006, waste batteries, electronic devices and fluorescent light bulbs may not be placed in the trash by anyone.

If you’re really bored, the full text of the law is here and a guidance letter explaining the revocation of temporary exemptions that allowed consumers to dispose of batteries in the trash fills in a little more info and has a couple links to FAQ-type sites.

Ignorance fought, thanks.
I find it interesting that the one of the reasons cited (in the FAQ) states that the reason for the law is the presence of Cadmium. Particulary since there is no Cadmium in alkaline batteries. :dubious:
I also find it fascinating that this apparently is a stealth law. I do not recall ever seeing any news stories on it, or enclosures from the city in my DWP bills on it.
I think I will have to write my lawmakers and ask them WTF?

Yeah, it did kind of sneak in. Our garbage service puts something like “Reminder: It is illegal to place batteries or fluorescent lamps in your household trash receptacle.” at the bottom of the bill now and then. Naturally, they don’t say what you are supposed to do with them.

The nearest recycling center to me is about 12-13 miles away from my house. Driving 25 miles to dispose of something that the EPA says I can throw in my trash does not seem to be a very environmentally sound idea to me. :rolleyes:

Although there does appear to be potassium hydroxide in Alkaline batteries:

From Here:

So question: how safe is potassium hydroxide?

This issue really grinds my gears. While the City has said that it’s now illegal to dispose of batteries and such in the trash, they’ve not offered any convenient alternate method of disposal. They need to have the Recycling company provide bags or something so we can just put them out with the bins.

Driving across town, on the freeway, to throw away batteries at the collection site. Yeah, that’s gonna work.

Here’s a site where you can find a battery recycling location anywhere in the country. In the Detroit area (which is where I think you live), it mentions Home Depot, Radio Shack, Cingular Wireless stores, Sears, Office Depot, etc. The simplest thing, I think, would be to accumulate the discharged batteries until you’re already going to one of those stores and they may also have a bin for recycling fluorescent light bulbs.

It was all over our local papers. But not the recycling sites, alas.

E-waste is illegal to throw away also. The nearest recycling center is about 15 miles, and in the middle of nowhere, but recently there have been school and Boy Scout e-waste recycling drives, so it is getting easier.

Thanks for the link! I’ve been in several of the stores with recycling near me quite frequently, and have never noticed a battery recycling bin. I’ll have to look for it the next time I’m there.

So I found this in Rick’s link above. It still doesn’t address whether potassium hydroxide is a problem in landfills, or escapes from landfills, but it doesn’t sound good.

Does anyone have a good source on whether potassium hydroxide is the reason for keeping batteries out of household trash?

Actually, I reread the link I posted for locating battery recycling sites, and it emphasizes that the program is only for rechargeable batteries.

I always just put bulbs and batteries in with the bottles and cans. I figure that the recycling folk will figure out what to do with them to keep them out of the landfill.

Sure, they don’t want them, but looking at the big picture, if it works then who cares what they prefer. If enough people do it that way, then that will become the way to do it.

In fact, the trend in cities around here is exactly that, to combine all recyclables into one bin/bag and have the sorting done by trained sort monkeys.

As a new car dealership we deal with Interstate batteries and they are happy to
take all batteries for recycling including nicad , wet and dry cell as well as lithium
batteries. I’m sure if you look in your yellow pages you could call to confirm this. I doubt that they are doing me a special favor by taking them .Bulbs I just break them and through them in the regular trash – I don’t know how safe that is but I’ve never seen a recycling facility for them.

titorian, please don’t do that. I used to hear complaints from the Recycling Manager at a county where I worked. Light bulbs are not recyclable due to the amount of metal they contain (I mean elements and connection end, not the mercury in fluorescent bulbs.) If there gets to be too much trash in a batch of recycling most places will just throw out the whole batch rather than go through the added expense of picking out the crap or reduce the quality of the recycled material. So, by just casually throwing in stuff they ask not to be included, a person can defeat the purpose of the recycling.

Plus, the job of sorting recycling for places that allow mixing is tough enough to intentionally make it more difficult.

Omegaman, I’m not sure if you mean incandescent of fluorescent bulbs. The regular trash is the best spot for incandescent bulbs. Flourescent bulbs have mercury which is why they don’t want them in the waste stream. However, there is a problem with public policy in most areas on this matter. There does seem to be a lack of easy places to get rid of them properly, or they charge enough that most people say hell with it and chuck them.

I am very concerned about this with the push for more use of energy saving fluorescent bulbs. Unless they are making them without mercury, I anticipate a steep rise in mercury contamination as people chuck them into the garbage. (Wouldn’t that be ironic. Have a push to reduce energy consumption and resulting mercury emissions from coal power plants by encouraging use of fluorescent bulbs, and mercury levels increase because no one thought to develop a plan to dispose of them.)