February 18th is National Battery Day

February 18th is National Battery Day

National Battery Day is February 18 and Daylight Saving Time begins on March 9. Batteries are central to both dates.

Battery Day is a time to recognize this special energy source, which powers the things that make our lives safer and easier. Emergency preparedness experts recommend changing the batteries in life saving devices such as smoke detectors when daylight savings time begins. However, if these ubiquitous power packs are handled or disposed of improperly, they can be dangerous to humans and harmful to the environment.

Batteries are made from a variety of different chemicals and metals including alkaline, silver-oxide, nickel, metal-hydride, lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, lithium-ion, and zinc-carbon. When thrown in the regular trash, batteries decay in landfill sites and could leak into the groundwater, which may pollute soil and water in a community.

Battery Disposal

Proper battery disposal not only prevents pollution, it also conserves landfill space and saves metals and minerals that can be recycled and used in new products. It is essential that batteries be properly prepared for recycling to prevent fires while in transit.  When batteries rub against each other it creates a fire risk. This endangers waste management employees and facilities.

“It’s important that you don’t place batteries in your regular recycling bin or trash can.  Residents should take them to a battery collection site for proper handling,” stresses Scott MacDonald, the Solid Waste Division Recycling Program Manager. “When recycling rechargeable and single-use batteries rated nine (9) volts or higher, it is important to tape the terminals to reduce the chance of fire during transport and at the processing facility,” adds MacDonald. Simply place masking tape over the positive terminal of each battery or return it to the original packaging for safe in-home storage and transport. Use a plastic pail or cardboard box rather than a metal can for storage.

Proper handling and disposal are important. Battery Day is an opportunity to celebrate the convenience and respect the potential hazards that batteries pose. Prince William County residents can bring various types of household batteries and lead acid automotive batteries to the Prince William County Landfill or the Balls Ford Road Compost Facility every day.  Note, these facilities do not accept hybrid batteries used in electric cars.

A room with four signs indicating which types of batteries should go into which bin.
Prince William County battery recycling facilities.

In addition to the two county facilities, several retail outlets also make battery recycling convenient for many types of batteries. Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Staples, or battery specialty stores like Batteries Plus and Interstate Battery all have battery-recycling programs. Mom’s Organic Market has an extensive recycling center that accepts a wide range of battery types. Earth 911 and Call2Recycle are great online resources for battery recycling drop off locations and battery recycling mail-in program options.

Battery Day Observance

For most people, every day is a battery day. From basic battery-operated devices like flashlights, radios, clocks, watches, television remotes and toys to more complex devices like cars, mobile phones, laptop computers, tablets and handheld game devices as well as life saving devices like Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors. Batteries power them all.

As you celebrate the power of batteries on February 18 and spring forward to Daylight Saving Time on March 9, remember to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and other life saving devices and make a point of proper disposal and recycling.