Recycle Old Batteries
Batteries: good for gadgets, bad for the environment. While most people avoid dumping their used motor oil into the sewer system, only about 5 percent of rechargeable batteries get recycled.
Dead rechargeable AAs are among the most recyclable products you can buy. Lithium and nickel batteries can be melted down, the metal recovered, and their materials reprocessed into new batteries, with virtually zero waste. But consigned to a landfill, the metals in recyclable batteries can contaminate the soil.
All rechargeables should be recycled. Many retail stores (including Radio Shack) accept them. Check out www.rbrc.org or call 800/822-8837 for a drop-off location near you.
Note that standard alkaline batteries are no longer the mercury-laden monstrosities of 22 years ago. Today's alkalines contain no mercury at all. Because these batteries are less toxic, many battery recyclers do not accept alkalines, though your municipality may offer a way to recycle them. Check with your local government before tossing them in the trash.