61°F
weather icon Clear

We need power to make better recycling choices

When you change out the batteries for your flashlight, camera or other devices, what do you do with the used ones? Do you guiltily throw them in the trash, like most people? After all, they are described as single use or “throw-away” batteries. But where do they end up? In the landfill mostly. The same could be said for used computer ink cartridges.

A useful website, http://bit.ly/2czihmv , gives some interesting numbers on batteries.

“The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that each year Americans throw away more than 3 billion batteries. That’s about 180,000 tons of batteries. More than 86,000 tons of these are single-use alkaline batteries. Imagine, placed end-to-end these dead alkaline batteries alone would circle the world at least six times.” And “about 14,000 tons of rechargeable batteries are thrown away in the United States.”

The AA, C and D cells that power electronic toys and games, portable audio equipment and a range of other gadgets make up 20 percent of the household hazardous materials in America’s landfills. Basically, batteries are a hazardous-waste product that, when unopened, are fairly safe to handle.

But when they enter the landfill, they can quickly become damaged, crushed and degraded. Toxic chemicals such as mercury and heavy metals such as cadmium, cobalt and lead, as well as corrosives acids, can escape the casing. When they reach the right temperature or sometimes come in contact with another battery, some of these batteries can explode and can leach toxic fumes into the surrounding soil and water.

Just how bad are these chemicals? The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports that heavy metals such as cadmium can cause lung damage, kidney disease and death, and lead can damage the kidneys, nervous system and reproductive system.

OK, you say, but these throwaway batteries that end up in the landfill are sealed away forever, right? Not so, it seems. A city needs about one-tenth of an acre per person over 20 years before a landfill can be considered full, and estimates vary on how long a landfill can remain viable after being capped.

I love recycling and have the handy card “Aiming for Zero Waste,” on my fridge, like many other families, and I dutifully recycle many of the items that are listed. I have reduced my weekly waste by about two-thirds. But I am still concerned about what to do with my used batteries.

An inquiry to B.C. Waste Free brought the following response.

“Thanks for your inquiry to B.C. Waste Free. The items you mentioned are treated as household hazardous waste. Those items need to be dropped off at the landfill to be processed and recycled, per Southern Nevada Health District regulations. The landfill is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thanks for helping keep Boulder City “Clean and Green.”

But while I know that batteries are considered hazardous waste I, like many seniors, don’t have transportation to take batteries and similar items to the landfill.

So, how can Boulder City solve this problem? I know the argument about switching to rechargeable batteries, and I even tried solar-rechargeable ones, but they were not as effective or reliable as regular batteries. It would be great if the landfill organizers could provide some public guidelines on used battery disposal or perhaps provide collection bins around town where citizens can dispose of their used batteries.

Maybe place one at the Senior Center of Boulder City and another one in the police station vestibule like the one where they collect unused medications. Anything would be better than throwing them in the trash.

Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at catalyst78@cox.net.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Vaccine much more than medical tool

By definition, a vaccine is “a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Community residents must fight COVID with united front

This is the season of Thanksgiving and my hope is that everyone had a good day and a good meal. That has not always been easy during this year of the pandemic. Many of us have had losses or illness that made the year so difficult. We are indeed living in a time that has impacted all of us in ways large and small.

Give thanks for holidays

Happy Thanksgiving.

Fight to protect freedoms

I appreciated the recent commentary by Daniel Benyshek regarding vaccine and mask mandates. He points out the “dutiful responsibility” that freedom-loving Americans should embrace, and I agree wholeheartedly.

Annexation is not development

I wanted to take this opportunity to share more information with our Boulder City neighbors about the city of Henderson’s proposed annexation of portions of Eldorado Valley, located along the southeast boundary of Henderson and south of Railroad Pass.

Life is like box of chocolates

In the movie “Forrest Gump,” the titular character says, “My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”

We must balance freedom, civic responsibility

Despite the overwhelming consensus of the American professional medical community (including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health) that advocate for COVID-19 vaccination and basic disease prevention behaviors such as mask wearing in public in order to lessen the savage toll of the coronavirus pandemic, some Americans remain skeptical of the necessity, safety and efficacy of these public health measures. Indeed, it is likely that no amount of expert medical advice or corroborative scientific data will convince these skeptics and conspiracy theorists otherwise.

Let’s get educated

Following events in Boulder City can sometimes feel like riding the wave machine at a water park. Lots of highs and lows. Some of us are just along for the ride. Some are determined to get to the front, pushing and shoving as we go. Then, some of us like standing on the edge and blowing a whistle.

It’s an honor to serve

Today is Veterans Day. It’s a day we set aside to recognize and thank those who served our country in any branch of the military.

Action needed to halt Henderson’s sprawl

Mayor (Kiernan) McManus’ Sept. 1 column touted his future plans to conserve wastewater. At the tail end, he offhandedly mentioned Henderson’s intent to annex county land below Railroad Pass to promote its own expansive growth plans. You and I might have missed those three sentences if we weren’t paying close attention. But somehow Henderson’s mayor, Debra March, was well aware.