Batteries and the Environment
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Batteries and the Environment
Just before the holidays, I was able to tour the Shoreway Recycling and Disposal Center where I was able to observe the separation of recyclables from other trash.

During the tour, the subject arose about where the garbage is taken. Basically, a canyon is lined with a rubber liner and the trash is dumped into the canyon until filled then covered. There is compaction but at some point the volume of garbage will fill the allotted space. I asked about the rubber liner and was told it was done to protect the surrounding land from corrosive substances, such as used batteries.

Then, during the recent holidays, I made note of the number of electronic gadgets that require batteries to operate. Once I started becoming aware of the battery operated items, I was astounded by the sheer volume.

I looked in various areas of my house and found my home inundated with battery operated items. In my family room alone, I found a TV remote, a CD remote, a satellite remote, remote telephone, and smoke detector all of which require batteries. My cell phone and hand-held PDA both require batteries.

In my home office, there is a computer and a phone with an answering machine that uses batteries. The clock radio beside my bed uses a battery to maintain the time during a power failure and I use an electric razor with a rechargeable battery.

In my CERT knapsack is a two-way radio and a flashlight complete with extra batteries. And speaking of flashlights, I have several scattered about the house and in my car for emergency purposes.

This is not meant to be an all encompassing list and each of you can probably list many more items requiring batteries. The main point here is what you do with the batteries when they are no longer usable or the device is no longer serviceable?

Have you ever had a flashlight or other battery operated device that you left in a drawer for an extended period of time only to one day try to use it and the batteries appear to be “dead”? You open up the device and discover that corrosion has taken over the battery compartment. That is what will happen when batteries are discarded with the regular garbage and make their way to the landfill.

So the next time you are replacing batteries, you might want to pay more attention to your method of disposal. Beginning February, 2006, the state of California banned the disposal of household batteries in household trash.

Household batteries must be treated as a household hazardous waste. You can put used batteries in a zip-locked bag and put them out with the other recycled items or deposit them at the City Hall battery recycling bin. In our effort to pass on the “cleanest” environment to future generations, we must be ever diligent in broadening our vision. There is more to recycling to save the environment than separating out a few newspapers, some aluminum cans, glass bottles, or plastic containers.

I would appreciate your comments on this and other issues by emailing me at

Council Corner

February 04, 2009
Batteries and the Environment

City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 286-3200