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Legislative measure would require manufacturers to take back batteries, helping to keep them out of landfills

April 27, 2017

Denton Record-Chronicle
By Caitlyn Jones
Original Story Here

There comes a point in every person’s life when the TV remote control batteries need to be changed.

You purchase a fresh pack at the grocery store and pop open the cover to take out the tiny energizers that have served your binge-watching needs valiantly. But then you stop.

You look at the AAs in your hand, then to the trash can. Deep down, you know it’s bad to just throw them away. But what are you supposed to do?

You may not get any help from the Texas Legislature this year, but there are local options that will help your environmentally conscious mind sleep soundly at night.

The bill

As the state legislative session pushes forward, one bill put forth by Rep. Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie, aims to tackle the growing number of batteries that show up in Texas landfills.

House Bill 1874, known as the Battery Takeback Recycling Bill, would require battery manufacturers to take back used household batteries — think AAs, AAAs, Cs or Ds — at no cost and properly dispose of them. The program would be similar to recycling laws already on the books for television and computer manufacturers.

Like a previous version of the bill proposed in 2015, HB 1874 has stalled in the House Environmental Regulation committee and is unlikely to gain traction with the session ending at the end of May.

The harm

Household batteries are deemed “universal waste” by the Environmental Protection Agency. This means that, although they are considered hazardous, they are produced in such large quantities that they aren’t subject to more severe disposal regulations.

David Dugger, the manager of the Denton landfill, said heavy metals from used batteries can seep into leachate, or water that runs through trash and collects at the bottom of a landfill.

“If you’re trying to treat that leachate, it could raise your costs as you try to get those contaminants out,” he said.

Dugger said Denton doesn’t treat its leachate but rather pumps it back through the waste to break down natural materials. That produces more methane gas, which is transferred to a generating system that provides a portion of the city with electricity.

But Denton is an outlier.

According to the Texas Campaign for the Environment, an estimated 3 billion batteries ended up in landfills nationwide last year with roughly 250 million of those landing in Texas.

The reclamation

Dugger said Denton residents can hand off their expired batteries through the city’s home chemical collections program. In addition to other hazardous chemicals, community members can package their used batteries and schedule a free pickup by calling 940-349-8080.

Last year alone, the program kept 54 tons of hazardous chemicals out of the Denton landfill.

“We always like to make sure things go through proper disposal channels and I think our programs reflect that,” Dugger said.

Computer Crusher Recycling, located at 2141 Collins Road in Denton, also recycles a wide variety of batteries.

Sales manager Brad Chism said the company typically deals with lead-acid batteries stripped from computer hardware, but will recycle practically every type of battery. He said the shop recycles about 1,500 pounds of batteries in an average month.

“People are very grateful that we’re here and that we’re an option,” Chism said. “We try to take in as much as we can recycle responsible.”

To drop off used batteries or other electronics, swing by Computer Crushers from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 

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