Batteries power our lives. It would be difficult to find a Bedford home without at least one battery-powered device. From smoke detectors to remote controls, kids toys to rechargeable toothbrushes, Roomba vacuums and the car in the driveway - all use one type of battery or another.
February 18th is National Battery Day. On this day, we celebrate the convenience that batteries bring to our lives and remember the contributions of Italian Scientist, Alessandro Volta, who is credited with inventing the modern battery in the year 1800. The word “volt” pays homage to his work.
While batteries provide cordless power to our everyday lives, they can also be incredibly problematic at the point of disposal. Improperly disposed Lithium batteries, especially, are responsible for a number of high-profile fires at Material Recovery Facilities and Disposal Sites. In June of 2022, a Lithium battery caused a fire on the tip floor of the Lee, NH Transfer Station. https://www.nrrarecycles.org/news/lithium-battery-fire-lee-nh
It is important that all batteries be properly disposed to prevent these kinds of incidents. Batteries (or battery-containing devices) should never be placed in your curbside recycling carts and only single-use alkaline batteries are acceptable in the trash. Residents should instead bring batteries to the Compost & Recycling Center, 108 Carlisle Rd or to Household Hazardous Waste Day events.
How can I tell if my child’s toy contains an embedded battery? If the toy lights up, talks or moves on its own, or recharges it contains a battery. Toys can sometimes contain notoriously difficult to remove batteries. A Magic Mixies cauldron toy, for example, contains a deeply embedded Lithium-polymer battery. These batteries must be removed before disposing of the toy. Never put toys with embedded batteries in the trash without first removing the battery. Once removed, properly recycle the battery.
How can I tell what type of battery I have? Batteries manufactured in the US must have the battery chemistry stamped on the label, by law. Look for this information on the side of label. It may be very small. If you are not sure, please bring the battery to Compost Site and staff will be happy to help you.
Acceptable batteries for drop off at the Compost & Recycling Center:
- All rechargeable batteries (Ni-Cd, Ni-MH, Lithium-ion, Lithium-polymer; found in cordless power tools, toys, cell phones, laptops)
- Small-sealed lead-acid batteries (or SSLA; found in backup power supplies, children’s ride on toys, alarm systems)
- Single use Lithium Primary (small, flat, round batteries in key fobs and watches; also now sold as A, AA or AAA Lithium)
- Button batteries (small, squat and round, found in hearing aids and watches)
- Devices with embedded batteries (such as an electric toothbrush, note: we cannot accept vape pens)
Alkaline batteries are non-hazardous and can be disposed of in the trash.
Prior to dropping off batteries, please tape the terminals with clear packing tape to prevent electrical discharge. Batteries can then be placed into the collection containers inside the Universal Waste Shed at the Recycling Center.
Damaged or leaking batteries should be treated as Hazardous Waste and brought directly to a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Day event. This includes swollen, bent or cracked batteries. Dates for 2023 HHW events will be posted to the Town website.
Have additional battery recycling questions? Contact Liz Antanavica, Trash & Recycling Administrator, (781)275-7605 x4261.