How To Properly Dispose of Batteries In Montclair

When discussing batteries, we reduce confusion by specifying the difference between the two distinct categories: standard, alkaline (AKA "flashlight" or "household") batteries; and, rechargeable batteries.

The heavy metals in standard household batteries - such as AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt - were removed many years ago (1992). Therefore, these batteries are no longer classified as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), and Montclair residents are no longer prohibited from disposing of them as refuse (garbage); these batteries are not accepted at the annual Essex County HHW Collection Drop-off events.

The toxic chemicals are found in our rechargeable batteries, which are commonly used in cell phones, laptop computers, cordless power tools, digital cameras, portable CD and DVD players, etc. Any device that plugs into a cradle for recharging uses a rechargeable battery. Rechargeable batteries do contain heavy metals — mainly cadmium and lead — and therefore are classified as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW); they are consequently prohibited from disposal as refuse.

These include: nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad); nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH); lithium ion (Li-Ion); and small sealed lead (Pb) rechargeable batteries. Also, button cell batteries for watches and lithium batteries for cameras contain heavy metals.

Keep in mind, we encourage the use of rechargeable batteries because they reduce the volume and the toxicity of our waste. But, rechargeable batteries themselves are very hazardous to human health and our environment, so they must never be thrown out.

Like all HHW, which falls under County jurisdiction, township residents should hold onto their rechargeable batteries for collection until Essex County's HHW collection days. These events are usually held twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. For current schedules, contact the Essex County Utilities Authority at (973) 857-2350.

Historically, the events are held on the first Saturday in May and October, in Cedar Grove, which is convenient for Montclair residents. The drive-in and drop-off collection takes place from 8:30AM until 4PM sharp, at 125 Fairview Avenue (next to the old Hospital Center), and is free for Essex County residents only. No early arrivals are accepted, and it is a Rain-or-Shine event. Call (973) 792-9060, or go to www.ecuanj.com for further information.

Remember, household hazardous waste in landfills or incinerators poses a serious hazard to human health and the environment, so all NJ residents are prohibited from disposing of HHW as garbage.

However, there are other rechargeable battery disposal options: Staples has now initiated a new program accepting rechargeable batteries at their stores. Here is a quote from their announcement:

"Many people don't realize that rechargeable batteries which power the growing numbers of mobile electronic products can and should be recycled when they no longer hold a charge. Staples will now recycle used rechargeable batteries commonly found in mobile devices, including cell phones, digital cameras, laptop computers, PDAs, and portable DVD and CD players. Staples customers simply drop off their used rechargeable batteries at the store customer service desk. Alkaline batteries are not accepted."

For further information about batteries, household hazardous waste, or any other local environmental issues, please contact the Montclair Environmental Affairs office at (973) 509-5721.