Top 5 Rechargeable Batteries for a Less Polluting Power Consumption

According to recent studies, Americans throw out each year around 180,000 tons of used batteries. Out of the total amount, 92 percent are single-use batteries and a mere 8 percent are rechargeable batteries. Given that batteries contain several toxic chemicals, including acid, alkaline, lead, nickel, lithium, and mercury, they should not end up in landfills.

When they are dumped into landfills, batteries eventually breakdown and leak these toxic chemicals into the environment. As a result, we have to deal with soil and ground water contamination.

After the Battery Act was signed in 1996, the use of mercury in rechargeable batteries was phased out. At the same time, proper methods for the recycling and disposal of old batteries were set in place. However, these eco-friendly methods only work when people use them as they should.

Recycle Old Batteries

A lot of people toss old batteries in the household trash, which is a highly harmful practice.  The best way to dispose of used batteries is to recycle them. This way, you help reduce waste and keep toxins out of the soil and water. If you’re not sure where you can take your batteries for disposal, contact Earth911 or Call2Recycle.

A convenient recycling option is to save all your old batteries in a recycling bin or container and take them to the recycling center periodically. You can also involve your neighbors or local school in a community project of battery recycling.

Rechargeable batteries, like single use batteries, should also be recycled. The ones available on the market now are generally more toxic than non-rechargeable batteries. However, if you use and dispose of them properly, you can save money and the environment at the same time.

Switch to Rechargeable Batteries

So why should you switch to rechargeable batteries, if they contain more toxic chemicals than the single-use batteries? Rechargeable batteries are greener products still, because they can be reused hundreds of times. They also often outperform single-use batteries.

If you start utilizing rechargeable batteries, you will also reduce your contribution to single-use battery packaging waste. At the same time, you might even reduce your carbon footprint cutting down trips to the store. We will further discuss the advantages and disadvantages below.

Rechargeable Batteries Are Cost-effective

Given the boom in the production of rechargeable batteries, you can easily find the shape and size you need for your household products. Even though you might pay a higher price upfront, using rechargeable batteries is actually the cost-effective alternative. They pay for themselves in time, since you can use them over and over again.

For example, buying 4 quality AA rechargeable batteries for $10-$20 gives you an initial cost of $2.5 – $5 per battery. You can recharge each battery a minimum of 100 times, and the cost of each use cost is 5 cents or less. Once you do the math, it will be impossible not to start using rechargeable batteries.

Benefits of Rechargeable Batteries

  • They save you money – If used properly, you can recharge rechargeable batteries for hundreds (or even thousands) of times. In spite of the higher initial cost, they end up paying for themselves over time.
  • Better performance – Should you buy a top-quality rechargeable, they actually perform better, lasting longer on a single charge than their disposable counterparts.
  • Conserve resources – Since you can reuse rechargeables, you encourage the production of fewer batteries than disposable counterparts. In fact, studies showed that rechargeable batteries consume 23 times less non-renewable natural resources than single-use batteries.
  • Protect the environment – A lot of people don’t realize the environmental impact of disposable batteries. Corrosive materials, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals combined with improper disposal spells big trouble for the environment. Rechargeables, on the other hand, have 30 times less impact on air pollution, 28 times less impact on global warming, 12 times less impact on water pollution, and 9 times less impact on air acidification!

Disadvantages of Rechargeable Batteries

  • Recharging – As suggested by the name, rechargeable batteries do have to be recharged. If you’re used to disposable batteries and how they’re always readily available for use, it might be a bit of hassle to always remember to recharge them. Make sure you have backups; this way, you won’t have to wait for your batteries to juice up.
  • Self-discharge – You should expect some self-discharge. You may need to charge batteries before their first use, as well as after you’ve been storing them for some time. One solution is opting for pre-charged versions, but they cost a bit more.

Which Rechargeable Batteries Are Best to Buy

Once a fringe product, rechargeable batteries are now available at almost any supermarket or convenience store, and at many online retailers. Thanks to the increasing availability and brand competition, you can buy batteries that are more affordable than ever while also remaining eco-friendly in your choices. Dozens of brands sell them, but here are a few of the best and most popular:

  1. Duracell. Popular battery manufacturer Duracell makes the best and most varied battery sizes in rechargeable versions. They also market chargers for said batteries. If you need the battery now, the brand also makes pre-charged versions of several sizes.
  2. Energizer. Another long-time customer favorite, Energizer is also pretty good at making common battery sizes in rechargeable versions. They also carry chargers and pre-charged versions – for a price.
  3. Eneloop. Even though it is a newcomer on the market, Eneloop (from Sanyo/Panasonic) features improved specs. Their batteries are rechargeable up to 1,500 times; most versions come pre-charged; and they are highly reliable in low temperatures.
  4. Sony. Their rechargeable batteries come either standard or pre-charged, just like the ones we already talked about. Moreover, the brand has designed most of its variants for specific use in cameras and other hand-held devices.
  5. Powerex. The best feature of these batteries is that they have memory-free operation. If they do not develop the memory effect, it means that the batteries will be able to retain more charge, almost at near full capacity even after hundreds of charges.

Rechargeable batteries simply make more sense than their disposable counterparts – both Environmentally and financially. If you can afford, try switching from disposable batteries and you will reap the benefits.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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