There are 30 million tons of solid waste discarded by Texas residents each year. Residential waste is most of that, at 63%, while the rest is commercial and institutional. Many early landfills were not designed to keep rain water from leaching into the groundwater. Even though some of the newer landfills may have liners to prevent water contamination they may still leak. When the liners fail they pollute lakes and rivers allowing lead and acid from batteries to contaminate the water. 88% of mercury found in streams is due to dry cell batteries and 50% is due to cadmium. Mercury exposed to the environment can allow toxic vapors to reside in that area for many years. Recycling of batteries can keep some of these harmful metals from contaminating our landfills.
Most of the common household batteries are AAA, AA, C, D, 9V, and button batteries, or "Dry Cell batteries". 3 million of these batteries are purchased per year . These are typically single-use alkaline batteries. They are mainly used for flashlights, toys, remote controls, and clocks. The batteries in these appliances are replaced quite frequently and most of the time are thrown in the trash instead of being recycled. The #1 recycled battery is the Lead-acid automotive battery at a 98% recycle rate. Because of state law lead-acid automotive battery retailers accept used batteries for recycling. New batteries are made up of 60% to 80% recycled batteries and the rest is used to make plastic products.
Non automotive lead-acid batteries such as Gel Cell and sealed lead-acid batteries are most commonly used in alarm systems, emergency lighting, and industrial equipment. Most automotive stores will also accept these types of batteries for recycling or they can be sent to a waste agency to be recycled. These batteries, like lead-acid automotive batteries, are recycled by a crushing process then neutralizing the acid then removing the polymers from the lead.
A great way to reduce the amount of batteries contaminating our landfills which leads to pollution of our groundwater is to use rechargeable batteries. One in five dry cell batteries purchased are rechargeable. Just using one rechargeable battery can replace at least one hundred dry call batteries. There are several types of rechargeable batteries but the 3 main types are Lithium-Ion (Li-ion), nickel metal hydride (NIMH), and Nickel Cadmium (NiCd). The most popular being Lithium-Ion. When these batteries are ready for recycle they are sent to the RBRC (Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation) for the recycle process.
Batteries are a major source of energy in most of the world, but because of the harmful chemicals they contain that are hazardous to people and the environment, rules and regulations by the Federal Government were...