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The standard household battery of today—the AA's, AAA's, C's, D's, and 9-volts —have been re-engineered so that the components in them are of low toxicity, making them safe to dispose of with your normal trash.

(But consider this: If you're using more than a dozen or so disposable batteries per year, your can probably save a lot of money by going to rechargeables.)

Batteries that might have been manufactured prior to 1997—prior to passage of the (gulp) "Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996," which began the phase-out of mercury-based household batteries—then they likely contain mercury, should be considered toxic waste, and should be recycled. Contact your local household chemical collection facility for more information on proper disposal.

Button batteries, commonly found in hear aid devices, contain silver, zinc, or other toxins and should be recycled.


Rechargeable batteries power everything from portable phones and cordless phones to laptops and PDAs to cordless tools and grooming products. These batteries are usually nickel-cadmium (nicad), lithium ion, or nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH). Nicads are good batteries, but the cadmium in them is toxic. Cadmium in the environment is already a big problem, so it's clear that we want to recycle all nicad batteries. Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are less toxic, but it is still recommended that they be recycled.

The good news is that the law mentioned in the previous section that banned mercury-containing batteries also set up the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), which was tasked with managing a collection and recycling program for rechargeable batteries.

The RBRC accepts rechargeable nicad, NiMH, Lithium-Ion, and small (under 2-lb) sealed lead-acid batteries. Car batteries, silver- and zinc-based button batteries, or disposable alkaline batteries are not accepted. Contact your local auto store for information on car battery recycling.

This information has been provided by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation. For more information click onto their site.

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