According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away more than three billion (approximately 180,000 tons) of batteries annually. The vast majority of those landfilled are alkaline. The soup of harmful substances contained in alkaline batteries (which include toxic heavy metals and corrosive acids) are sealed in the manufacturing process, and consumers do not come in contact with these substances during normal use. But once a battery is put in the trash, the casing is crushed, harmful substances leak, and the battery oozes hazardous waste. Batteries are hazardous in your recycling bin as well; when the positive terminals of certain batteries come in contact with each other, a spark can ignite a fire endangering people and property. In 2018, the Boulder County Recycling Center experienced two fires as a result of improper battery disposal.
Despite these hazards, up until recently residents of Boulder County have been advised to put their alkaline batteries in the trash. Budget constraints and reliable recycling partnerships have been the two primary barriers to establishing a sustainable alkaline battery recycling program in our community. But recent developments, including paint-stewardship savings from the Paint Care program and a partnership with fully certified and compliant recycler Battery Solutions, now make it possible for the Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management Facility (HMMF) to offer a comprehensive battery disposal management program.
Batteries now accepted at the HMMF include alkaline, rechargeable, button cell batteries, lead acid (including auto batteries), lithium ion (Li-Ion), lithium primary, lithium polymer (Li-Po), nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd), and nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) types. Proper preparation prior to drop-off at the HMMF remains important; in order to prevent fire, all lithium batteries and any other battery over 9-volts must be taped with clear tape on the positive battery terminal. Any damaged batteries should be placed in a sealable bag before transporting.
Residential drop-off hours at the HMMF are Wednesday through Saturday, from 8:30 AM to 4 PM and drop-off is free for all Boulder County, City and County of Broomfield, and Town of Erie residents. The HMMF is located at 1901 63rd St. Boulder, west of the recycling center.
Business disposal is by appointment only and disposal fees apply. For more information visit boco.org.