R.I.P. (Recycle In Peace) – Old Laptop Batteries

Happy Halloween!

Once your old laptop battery finally gives up the ghost, recycling it is as easy as picking up a new one – and you can probably do it in the same place. Thanks to the “Mercury-containing and Rechargeable Management Act” enacted in 1996, 50,000 retailers throughout the U.S. accept rechargeable batteries for recycling.

The Act established the not-for-profit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) which collects used rechargeable batteries through participating retailers. The RBRC then reclaims the metals from old products to create new batteries and stainless steel. They will accept rechargeable NiCad, NiMH, Lithium-Ion, Nickel-Zinc and small (under 2-lb) sealed lead-acid batteries. These batteries power most cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, camcorders, digital cameras, bar code readers, portable printers, PDAs, two-way radios and cordless power tools. The RBRC program does not accept car batteries, silver- and zinc-based button batteries, or disposable alkaline batteries.

Laptop batteries are typically one of three types – Nickel Cadmium (NiCad), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Litihium Ion (Li-Ion). All three contain elements that qualify them as hazardous waste, so under no circumstances should you throw them out with your household trash. Recycling battery materials is not just a means to keep heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury out of landfills, soil and groundwater, it is also a method of producing future batteries with less waste.

For a list of drop-off points near you, go to the RBRC website and enter your zip code. My search returned 263 hits – including Best Buy, Office Depot and Radio Shack. The drop off is usually a box with the logo below shown somewhere on it. If you don’t see the drop box or have a specific question, be sure to ask for the store manager.

Recycle wisely, and may the ghosts in the machine never come back to haunt you!

This blog was written for Paul LaGrange’s BuildWrite website and was originally posted on October 30, 2008.

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