Take charge of your old batteries – here’s how to recycle them.

Take charge of your old batteries – here’s how to recycle them.

With so many wireless and cordless devices in the typical home, battery disposal is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. You have batteries in your laptop, your cell phone, your TV remote and some of the electrical appliances stored in your kitchen drawers.

But not all batteries are created equal.

Throwing your rechargeable batteries away when they’re “dead” could be unsafe. Not only do the chemicals in batteries pose a risk to the environment (if not properly handled), batteries can spark and cause fires or explosions at the waste processing facility or recycling center.

So how should you get rid of your old batteries?

Alkaline Batteries

Single-use batteries (alkaline) are fine to toss in the trash when they run out of juice. These are most often found in flashlights, kids toys, TV remotes and other devices that need to have their batteries replaced when they stop working. (I know, that sounds really obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think about it.)

Single-use batteries are now made of common metals deemed non-hazardous by the federal government and can be disposed of in your regular trash. Prior to 1996, single-use batteries contained mercury and were treated as hazardous waste.

One exception: Watch out … the small, button-shaped batteries found in watches should NEVER be thrown away. They are considered to be hazardous and should be disposed of like a rechargeable battery.

Rechargeable Batteries

One way to cut down on the number of disposable batteries you send to the landfill each year is to buy and use rechargeable batteries, instead. These can be re-used up to 1,000 times before they wear out. But beware, rechargeable batteries pose their own risks and need to be handled differently when it comes time to dispose of them.

In fact, rechargeable batteries are the leading cause of fires at recycling centers and landfills because they are usually not prepared for the process and, instead, just buried in trash or piles of recyclables where they can accidentally spark. Lithium batteries – like those found in flashlights, rechargeable household appliances, computers, etc. – are often the culprits.

Small, sealed lead acid batteries, like those found in battery-powered scooters, remote control cars, etc. contain hazardous chemicals that can harm pets and contaminate land and waterways.

Recycling Batteries

Prepping single-use batteries for recycling:

  • Place a piece of non-conductive clear tape over the ends to prevent any current transfer. You can also bag each battery individually instead of taping the ends.
  • Seal batteries in a plastic bag that doesn’t conduct electricity in case there is a spark.
  • Drop the batteries off at a collection site.

Prepping rechargeable batteries for recycling:

  • Remove batteries from their electronics if possible. (This is not required for small electronics like cellphones or iPods, which can be accepted by the e-waste facility at the Waste Commission’s facility in Davenport.)
  • Cover the terminals with non-conductive tape clear tape.
  • Seal batteries in a plastic bag that doesn’t conduct electricity in case there is a spark.
  • Drop the batteries off at a collection site (preferably the e-waste facility).

The Waste Commission of Scott County has created a simple-to-follow guide to help make it easy for you. Just click on the image to the right and either download it or print it out and save the information in an easy-to-reach place.

Republic Services produces a waste guide for Riverdale residents

Republic Services produces a waste guide for Riverdale residents

Not sure you remember exactly whether the recycling bin needs to be wheeled to the curb this week? Can’t remember when bulky waste pick-up day is? Afraid you’re too late to leave yard waste at the curb for clean up?

Thanks to the City of Riverdale’s waste/recycling service provider, Republic Services, that won’t be a problem any more. They’ve provided a handy guide that will be mailed out to residents over the next week to help remind us what goes in the bin, on the curb and to the street – when it comes to trash and recycling.

You can also download a copy of that guide by clicking here (the guide will open in a new window).

Don’t forget – Monday is the last day yard waste will be picked up this fall!

Don’t forget – Monday is the last day yard waste will be picked up this fall!

Just a reminder to Riverdale residents – Monday morning is the last yard waste pick-up of the year, so get your leaves and other yard waste to the curb Sunday night for an early Monday morning pick-up.

For those of you who just can’t get to the rake this weekend, take note that there are some “experts” out there who claim raking the leaves in your yard is bad for the environment. In fact, naturalists at the National WIldlife Foundation suggest you skip the whole raking-leaves-thing forever.

Alternatives to raking leaves

So, what should you do with the leaves that fall into your yard if you’re not going to bag them up and ship them off to the nearest compost facility? Here are a few suggestions …

  • Let leaves stay where they fall. They won’t hurt your lawn if you chop them with a mulching mower.
  • Rake leaves off the lawn to use as mulch in garden beds. For finer-textured mulch, shred them first.
  • Let leaf piles decompose. The resulting leaf mold can be used as a soil amendment to improve structure and water retention.
  • Combine fallen leaves (“brown material”) with grass clippings and other “green material” and keep moist and well mixed. You’ll have nutrient-rich compost to add to your garden next spring.
  • Still too many leaves? Share them with neighbors, friends, schools and others. Some communities will pick up leaves and make compost to sell or give away.
  • Build a brush shelter. Along with branches, sticks and stems, leaves can be used to make brush piles that shelter native wildlife.

Do these suggestions still sound like too much work? Well, some experts suggest mulching leaves into your lawn instead of raking them may actually make your grass healthier.

Either way, with temps in the 50s tomorrow, it might be your last chance to get some good outdoor time in before the snow flies. Enjoy the weekend!

Yard waste pickup extended through December 9th

Yard waste pickup extended through December 9th

Riverdale’s forecast for Saturday is dry with a high in the low 40s.

Riverdale residents were taken by surprise on Monday, December 1st, when Republic Services picked up bags of leaves and other yard waste. In correspondence held today with Republic, the City was informed yard waste pick-up will occur one more time before ending for the season.

Fortunately for Riverdale residents, the weather forecast for the weekend looks good for both raking leaves, trimming trees and attending the Holiday Lights Celebration at City Hall scheduled for 4pm.

Let’s get this place ready for winter by getting our yards in shape and lights turned on for the holidays!