Batteries, we use them a lot around the house; whether it be on the remote control, flashlights, radios and of course toys. We are in constant need of changing the batteries, be it single use batteries or rechargeable ones (they also wear out and eventually require changing). Have you ever wondered what happens to them after we throw them in the garbage?
If not properly disposed of, batteries end up in landfill and contaminate the environment. They are made from a number of different materials that include acid, lead, nickel, lithium, cadmium, alkaline, mercury and nickel metal hydride. When batteries are not properly disposed of the casing can disintegrate and the toxic chemicals within can leach into the surrounding environment. The leaking material can contaminate the soil and water and some of the elements can accumulate in wildlife and humans.
With this in mind, island resident Laurie Norton, better known as Tacogirl, saw a need for battery recycling and ordered five quart clear, thick polycarbonate body C-Thru 5Q Battery Recycling Bin – battery recycling containers. She got the support of local hardware stores and has placed the recycling containers at Harmouch Center, Castillo’s Hardware and SP Hardware.
“Local businesses have been stepping up to donate, Laminar Fly, Quicksilver Messenger and Romantic Travel Belize,” stated Laurie Norton to Ambergris Today. Residents like Cathy Woods Slattery are glad that there is a place to deposit the batteries they have been saving. Island Resident Tim OIkos also stepped up to let me know that he was ready to help with his collection of dead lithium-ion tool batteries and was willing to hang onto them until we are equipped with bigger containers for disposal. I am happy to report that the containers are getting used and just as I suspected people have been saving their old batteries waiting for a safe place to dispose of them.”
Currently, proper paperwork needs to be drafted by the proper authorities for the batteries to be safely exported to a recycling center by sea and ground transport. As to where they will end up, so far the United States or Mexico is the likely option. Recycling involves breaking the batteries down and recovering the material contained within for reuse. In instances where the battery cannot be recycled, they are disposed of in a way that the toxic chemicals cannot enter the environment. In some instances this involves encasing the batteries in concrete.
Laurie has also been contacted by Haminasi Resort in Hopkins, Belize who are willing to place a container and help collect for Southern Belize. It is great to see people like Laurie who really care and take the initiative to come up with this awesome project. Let us all do our part to protect our environment and recycle our batteries.
FYI - Which Batteries Can Be Recycled
*In most cases household, single use batteries such as AA, AAA, C and D cells cannot be recycled
*Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) rechargeable batteries are considered hazardous waste and must be recycled
*Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Lithium Ion batteries for laptops are non-hazardous waste but should be recycled
*Button cell batteries for hearing aids, small toys and watches, contain silver and mercury. They are hazardous waste and can be recycled
*Lead acid batteries used in automotive applications are hazardous waste and can be recycled