Environmentally Friendly Batteries
It is important to choose the most environmentally friendly batteries available. We use batteries in a huge range of devices from small music players to tools and vehicles.
North Americans buy over 4 billion batteries a year, and throw out about a third of them. Although batteries represent only a small percentage of garbage, they represent about 80 percent of mercury contamination. Batteries gradually break down in landfill sites and release heavy metals which can then leach into ground water. Burning them is no better, and maybe worse: if they are incinerated the toxins are released into the atmosphere and then the mercury can contaminate the general environment
Historically, the two most common battery types are alkaline and carbon/zinc. Up until recently, these have always contained mercury. However, now they contain much less mercury and some claim to have none at all.
Rechargeable batteries offer a solution to some of the problems of disposables, though they have problems of their own. The most common rechargeables (NiCads) are made from nickel and cadmium. Cadmium, unfortunately, is yet another toxic metal, and more than half the cadmium in the U.S. waste stream comes from discarded batteries. NiCads cost more and hold their charge only a third as long as standard disposables - but a good NiCad can be recharged up to 1,000 times, so you won't throw out nearly as many, and you'll save a great deal of money, even factoring in the price of a recharger.
Rechargeable alkaline batteries are now available, some with reduced mercury content. Alkaline rechargeables don't need recharging as often as NiCads, but they tend not to last as long, holding up for only 25 to 100 recharges.
Currently, the most environmentally friendly batteries are the nickel metal hydrid battery with no toxic heavy metals at all. These store more electricity, outlast other rechargeables, and cost about the same. And when they finally wear out, you can toss them with a clear conscience.
Another promising development is the li-ion batteries but it is essential that you use the correct charger.
It is extremely important to choose the right battery for the application at hand and employ the correct charger for the job. Using the wrong charger or battery for the situation can result at best in inefficiency and at worst a fire hazard.
The discussion thus far has been focused on the small dry-cell batteries that are used in hand-held devices.
In addition to these, are the ones used in rechargeable hand-tools etc.
Then there are the larger ones used for automobiles and machinery, to start them and keep them running. The largest batteries most consumers are acquainted with are the rechargeable ones used to run fork-lifts in stores and warehouses, and those used off-grid for storing energy.
It is important that these batteries are not put into the garbage when they are worn out. When they no longer hold a charge, the environmental damage is extreme, if they are not disposed of properly.
When looking for replacement batteries Green Batteries is a good choice. They ship to Canada and the U.S.
To order your replacement batteries contact
Recycling batteries is a complicated issue. There are a wide range of mineral and chemical configurations in a battery's make-up. Some battery retailers provide the option of returning batteries for disposal. If you have no other recycling option it is best to bring them to a hazardous waste depot in your community where they will be disposed of in a responsible manner.
Even better than environmentally friendly batteries are the battery-less flashlights by
that provide light without using batteries.
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