Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship, Goshen, Ind., has had a “battery bucket” in its foyer for about a year now and encouraged members to recycle batteries rather than throw them in the trash.

Recycling batteries sounds simple, but proved complicated when Berkey’s Creation Care Committee learned that the local hazardous waste disposal would no longer accept alkaline batteries. While companies can make money recycling lithium ion and button batteries, alkaline batteries are not cost effective to recycle. This meant almost 90% of the batteries collected were just going in the landfill.  See the solution Berkey chose…

Battery Questions and Answers

Where do our dead batteries go?

We mail them to a company called Battery Solutions in Howe, Michigan where they are recycled.

Why do we pay to have batteries recycled?

1. While batteries no longer contain mercury, they do contain hazardous materials such as potassium hydroxide. In California, it is illegal to throw any battery in the trash.

2. Recycling materials also saves on mining new materials, and mining is a industry with high environmental impact.

3. This is one small way we can take responsibility for our lifestyles, and one small reminder that there are many environmental costs we don’t see or acknowledge.

How much does it cost?

It costs $80 to recycle about 55 pounds of batteries. At our present rate of recycling, that’s about $130-$150 per year. When we pay Battery Solutions, they send us a bucket. We fill it and mail it back, prepaid. The household-size bucket costs $25.

Can’t we just give our batteries to a hazardous waste disposal around here?

Many places are happy to receive lithium ion and button batteries. Those are cost-effective to recycle. You can take them to the Elkhart County Hazardous Waste or to Lowes. However, no one really wants alkaline batteries because companies can’t make money recycling them. They are typically just thrown in the landfill. If you switch to recyclable lithium ion batteries and keep them separate from any alkalines you use, you can still recycle them locally.

What do we know about Battery Solutions?

Battery Solutions has been in the battery recycling business for 20 years. The owner was originally a car battery salesman. When he saw the inappropriate ways people were disposing of dead car batteries, he felt responsible and decided he needed to address this need. The recycling business expanded to all forms of batteries.

Battery Solutions uses a low carbon footprint, room temperature method of recycling batteries imported from Europe. Berkey’s battery rep knows of no other company in the U.S. using this method. The alkaline recycling machine cost $7 million dollars.