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RE: [GreenYes] Batteries
It's true.  Alkalines are not "recycled".  Alkalines were a problem in the
early 90's, when they had signficant levels of mercury in them, and that was
why they were collected (and handled as hazardous waste).  Since then,
however, the industry has gone to a 99% or better mercury-free alkaline, so
the need is not there.  We tell our folks not to bring them in, but when
they do bring them in we accept them, and then just put them in the trash.

The problem batteries today (insofar as disposal is concerned) are the
rechargables, the preponderance of which still have substantial heavy metals
in them ( as in nickel, cadmium, lead).  These are the batteries we want out
of the waste stream, and are the targets of the Rechargeable Battery
Recycling Corporation's (RBRC) recovery campaign.  Visit their site at to see about the recent improvements to their collection
programs, which make retail takeback and municipal participation free and
very easy.  Also posted there is an EPA Enforcement Alert that provides
important background information that we should all be aware of.  The RBRC
is funded by 90% of the battery companies in the country (we should be
challenging the 10% who haven't agreed to be part of the solution).  

One final tidbit about how the mercury came to be removed from the
alkalines.  The campaign to reduce the toxicity started in one state, with a
law being passed that prohibited the sale in that state of alkalines with
mercury in them.  Thereafter, as other states began moving toward similar
prohibitions, the battery industry realized it was in their interests to
have one national standard.  By 1996 and with the passage of the 1996
Battery Act, mercury-free alkalines became the national standard. 

Lesson learned:  state action is powerful.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ilana Gauss []
Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2002 7:25 PM
Subject: [GreenYes] Batteries

A message from Jill Boone of the County of San Mateo RecycleWorks:

Recently, I've been told that the places that are accepting batteries 
are not *recycling* the alkalines. I'm interested to hear about any 
places that you use or refer people to that take the alkalines 
and if you've checked into what is being done with them....  

I'm posting to this list as I am looking for a local solution that we 
can promote and/or use. Thanks.

Ilana Gauss
Recycling Outreach Specialist
County of San Mateo RecycleWorks
Hotline: (888) 442-2666   Phone: (650) 599-1468

3 R's Tip of the Week:
Buy fewer disposable products. We know disposables are convenient. But with
the environment, convenience can take its toll.

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