Important change made to battery disposal on collection day

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As of Sept. 3, a program allowing residents of local single-family households or in apartment buildings with four units or less to dispose of household batteries and cellphones on collection day re-launched with an important change.

Instead of putting batteries and cellphones into clear zip-top bags and placing them on the blue cart, which is the recycling cart, the program now requires residents to place them on the black cart, or the trash cart.

It’s an important safety change involving a local recycling center.

“Currently, the RethinkWaste-owned Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos finds on average 13 batteries per hour on the recycling sort line,” officials said. “Batteries are helpful in everyday life, but when batteries are improperly disposed of and end up in a facility with lots of heavy equipment, this can lead to a bad combination. On September 7, 2016, the Shoreway Environmental Center experienced a four-alarm fire that was likely called by a lithium-ion battery. Thankfully all staff were evacuated safely, but it cost $8.5 million in damages.”

Local communities have been offered curbside collection and drop off program for batteries and cell phones since October 2007. The program aims to promote proper disposal of batteries to prevent potentially hazardous materials such as lithium, cadmium and nickel from harming the environment.

In 2017, 104 tons of batteries were collected. While officials say the program is successful, they also want to promote safety at the Shoreway Environmental Center.

This week, RethinkWaste mailed all single-family home residents a notice explaining the change from blue cart to black cart. It also sent two orange-tinted battery and cellphone collection bags to serve as a reminder.

Meanwhile, residents living in multi-family buildings with five or more units can request a free orange battery bucket from Recology San Mateo County to be placed in a common area, such as a lobby or multi-use room.

Resident can also visit drop-off locations including the Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos.

RethinkWaste consists of 12 public agencies — including Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, the County of San Mateo and the West Bay Sanitary District in San Mateo County — with the primary goal of developing programs that divert a minimum of 50-percent of waste from landfills as mandated by California State Law, AB 939.

For more information, go here.

Photo: RethinkWaste