Reducing the hazardous waste in America’s landfills starts at
home. Millions of households are producing billions of pounds
of solid waste. Products used every day in our homes leach
hazardous chemicals after entering landfills. There are a
number of simple steps that average consumer can take to limit
the damage that many of these toxic materials are doing to the
The garbage situation has become a big concern in cities all
around the country and not only is this a political issue, but
it is also a problem that has caught the attention of the
general population. We all realize there is a growing problem
but nobody likes to admit that their garbage is contributing to
Many municipalities have already started a recycling program to
deal with the growing mountains of paper, plastic, glass, etc.
Although it takes a bit of effort on the part of the public to
sort and separate their garbage, people are now beginning to
realize that the future of our environment is at stake.
One household product that is causing a problem these days is
throwaway batteries. Each year, Americans throw away 84.000 tons
of alkaline batteries. These AA, C and D cells that power
electronic toys and games, portable audio equipment and a wide
range of other gadgets comprise 20% of the household hazardous
materials present around the country in America’s landfills.
When a battery in one of the products we use fails, we simply run
out and buy a replacement. The dead battery ends up in the garbage
and no one thinks about where it goes and what happens to it after
the garbage is picked up.
Sealed inside these alkaline cells are harmful materials which are
not encountered by consumers during normal use. However, when the
batteries enter a landfill, the casings can be crushed, or can
easily degrade, which causes mercury and other toxins to leach into
The problem of batteries in landfills is one of the easiest to
solve. Using rechargeable power can significantly reduce the number
of batteries which end up in landfills. Rechargeable batteries can
be used again and again, up to 1,000 times. One rechargeable cell
can replace up to 300 throwaway batteries, keeping the landfill free
not only from the batteries themselves, but also from the paper and
plastic materials that are used to package them.
There are a number of manufacturers in the country today who deal in
rechargeable products and some of them have a number of programs
already in place to ensure that rechargeable batteries never enter a
landfill at all. For example, one of the largest manufacturers of
rechargeable products is now offering a lifetime replacement guarantee
on all round cells. If the product ever fails to accept or hold a
charge, the company will promptly replace it and recycle the used cell.
If you have an environmental agency in your area, you might like to
work on this issue with them, or perhaps they already have a program
set up to dispose of used batteries. As a concerned citizen, your
suggestions and input will be invaluable to them as they attempt to
come up with some solutions.