Batteries In The Trash? For Shame!

Back in 2006, the state of California banned a host of mercury-filled items from being thrown in the rubbish bin. The list of items, referred to as universal waste, included hazardous materials such as common household batteries used to power the television remote. Despite being in place for more than six years, many people still don’t know that tossing batteries in the trash is considered an illegal move.

That’s why groups like Call2Recycle and San Gabriel Council of Governments (SGVCOG) have come together to help educate community members and provide battery recycling sites. Since 2011, the group has collected more than 7,800 pounds of batteries from across San Gabriel Valley in Southern California.

image via San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments

“We wanted to inform the community as to why throwing products like batteries and fluorescent lamps in the trash is illegal in addition to providing them with convenient recycling opportunities,” Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC), the major project partner supporting the SGVCOG, said in a statement. “We are truly impressed by the response from community, business and city leaders.”

CalRecycle provided the grant that allowed for  the battery-recycling project and although the grant ended in March, Call2Recycle and the SGVCOG will continue to support businesses that maintain the battery take-back sites. Along with providing sites in which individuals can recycle their batteries, the project has also discovered some alarming feedback though surveys.

In 2010, the project conducted focus groups to determine public awareness in the San Gabriel Valley regarding hazardous waste product disposal and California law. The findings? More than 59 percent of those surveyed were aware of the disposal ban on batteries—but 56 percent still threw them in the trash. Yikes. All household batteries under 11 pounds can and should be recycled.

There are 40 take-back locations throughout the San Gabriel Valley, and for those elsewhere around the country, Call2Recycle provides extensive information on recycling batteries.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.

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