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County conservation board battery recycling centers add convenience, improve safety

County conservation board battery recycling centers add convenience, improve safety
Floyd County Conservation Naturalist Heidi Reams and Christian Fox, director of the FMC Landfill, show off a battery recycling container that is now available for people to drop off used batteries at the Fossil and Prairie Center near Rockford. Submitted photo
Enterprise Media Staff Report

The FMC Landfill, Floyd County Conservation and other county conservation departments are collaborating to help area residents recycle their batteries – adding convenience for the residents and safety for the landfill.

The Floyd-Mitchell-Chickasaw Landfill has partnered with Battery Solutions, a recycling company, to purchase recycling containers that are now available at conservation sites in the three counties.

The public will be able to fill these containers with their used batteries and when the container is full, FMC Landfill staff will come get them to be shipped back to the company and leave the empty recycling container to be reused.

In Floyd County, the battery recycling container is located inside the Fossil & Prairie Center near Rockford and is available during regular office hours. The Chickasaw County site is inside the Twin Ponds Nature Center door.

Some batteries that can be placed in these receptacles will need to be prepared properly in order to keep the receptacles safe and allow the Landfill staff to ship the batteries as soon as the container is full.

FMC Landfill Director Christian Fox said that of the roughly 20 to 30 fires each year at the landfill, more than half are started from batteries that are not disposed of properly.

“Some of those fires we can put out ourselves, but some we do have to call the fire department for,” Fox said. “It’s pretty crazy, and when we have to call them on a Sunday at 6 a.m., it’s definitely not fun to do.”

“To take the batteries to the landfill to recycle may not be very convenient for most people,” said Chickasaw County Naturalist Matt Crayne. “So we wanted to create an opportunity for people to take care of them in a responsible way. The fires are pretty costly for the landfill, not to mention the safety for the landfill workers and fire departments.”

Nearly all batteries contain toxic materials that need to be properly recycled so they don’t leach and contaminate soil and drinking water, but especially troublesome and potentially dangerous are lithium or lithium-ion batteries that are in many rechargeable devices.

Batteries that can be dropped off in the recycling containers without any safety precautions are alkaline, zinc, NiMH, NiCd, and electronics with embedded batteries, or batteries 9 volts and under.

Batteries that will need safety precautions are lithium cells including button cells, lithium-ion, sealed lead-acid and any batteries higher than 9 volts.

The safety precaution is simply covering the terminals with tape. Clear tape, electrical tape or duct take can be used.

“If you are unsure then always do the safety precautions,” said Heidi Reams, Floyd County Conservation naturalist.

These receptacles are for small batteries only. Larger items such as batteries for cameras, power tools, small portable electronics or even car batteries can be recycled by calling 641-982-4288 and making an appointment with the FMC Landfill to bring those items to the landfill for proper disposal.

Fox said he hopes additional sites can be found to host the battery recycling drop containers.

“We’re hoping this takes off and people take advantage of it,” he said. “Maybe we could have a drop site in towns – any possible way we can help.”


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