weather icon Partly Cloudy

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.
Bishop’s ordination filled the soul

Hundreds of devout souls came out Friday to celebrate one of Boulder City’s own, the Rev. Gregory Gordon, who was ordained as the first auxiliary bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas.

Consult pilots about need for air control tower

Did you know that there are over 15,000 public and private airports in the United States, and only 300 or so are served by the airlines? There are only 648 airport control towers in the entire nation. Therefore, there are approximately 14,000 airports without control towers. So, the question is: Does our tiny airport need a control tower?

Extend warm welcome to new council members

Tuesday, the city welcomed its two new council members, Matt Fox and Sherri Jorgensen. I wish them all the best as they begin this new chapter in their lives.

Some information bears repeating — often

So often we say or write something and the intended audience takes it in a completely different way from what you planned or ignores it totally. What do you do?

Does city desire family housing?

Many issues seem to be a perpetual part of Boulder City politics. One of those that always seems to arise during an election is how does Boulder City continue to keep our schools filled with children? Over half the population of Boulder City is older than 50.

Commentary: Water conservation remains key to sustainable future

The last time Lake Mead was at 35 percent capacity, it was being filled in the 1930s. While ongoing drought and climate change have created an uncomfortable reality and stressed water supplies, the Southern Nevada Water Authority has been preparing for this for almost 20 years. Now, with a federal shortage declaration just weeks away, our community’s commitment to conserving our limited water resources takes on a new urgency as we strive to protect the vibrancy of the place that more than two million of us call home.

Public utility commission needed for social media

Holding and reading a newspaper is old school these days. However, Facebook, and other social media platforms, have given us the power of instant feedback. I said in a previous column that all feedback is good, even when it is negative.

Enjoy July’s many gifts

Today is July 1 and it marks the beginning of one of my favorite months of the year.

New leaders will bring fresh perspective to city

The recent municipal election resulted in two new council members being elected. I congratulate Sherri Jorgensen and Matt Fox on their elections and welcome their input on City Council.

All Americans deserve health care

Who out there likes to see people suffer? Raise your hand, please. I am dead serious.