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Battery Basics for Your Business

March 25, 2014

Like paper and ink, there are simply some items that all businesses will need at one point or another. One of those items is batteries. Why? Because businesses need power, and batteries supply power. Because all businesses need power, however, they produce a whole lot of battery waste–and that power, just like power in real life, can be dangerous if left unchecked.

Batteries contain any number of toxic elements, including lead, mercury, and cadmium. If simply thrown in the trash, those batteries end up in landfills, thereby polluting the soil and, possibly, nearby water. This is why proper disposal of batteries is necessary and essential.

There are, of course, numerous requirements and regulations for battery disposal, but before learning about business regulations for battery waste, you must first know what a battery is. According to the EPA a battery is any “device consisting of one or more connected electrochemical cells which is designed to receive, store and deliver electric energy.” Electrochemical cells consist of three main parts: an anode, a cathode and an electrolyte, plus any connection–electrical of mechanical–required for the cell to deliver or receive electrical energy.

Batteries can be classified in any number of ways, but the majority fall within one of two broad classifications: non-rechargeable batteries and rechargeable batteries.

Non-rechargeable batteries are the most common type of battery on the market. They generate power from an irreversible chemical reaction and work best when a low amount of power is needed for a long time (think AA or AAA batteries).

Rechargeable batteries, meanwhile, are batteries that can–and must–be charged to maintain their function. These can be anything from lithium ion batteries in your iPhone or laptop to nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries and nickel metal hybrid (NiMH) batteries that are commonly found in cars, power tools and medical devices.

Luckily, batteries classified as hazardous materials can be collected as “universal waste,” a classification that includes several common waste items, including pesticides, light bulbs, and all mercury-containing equipment.

There are numerous waste-management requirements for both large- and small-quantity battery handlers. For example, handlers must store batteries that leak or spill–or that could eventually leak or spill if not stored properly–into closed and structurally sound containers. In addition, batteries can be sorted by type or mixed together in one container, provided that the integrity of the batteries has not been breached.

Please contact Hazardous Waste Experts for more information about proper disposal of battery waste. Call us today at 800-936-2311.

Photo Credit: eyesore9 via Compfight cc

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.