Now that MIT has expanded its recycling efforts, some community members have asked how they should dispose of used batteries in their offices.
According to Kevin Healy, recycling coordinator in Facilities, the answer depends on the type of battery. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has said that domestically manufactured alkaline batteries made after 1994 no longer contain mercury, so they can be disposed of safely in regular trash. However, nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries, button batteries (like those used in watches and hearing aids), and the lithium batteries in computers and cameras should not be put in regular trash.
Many concerned groups and individuals throughout MIT have been collecting used batteries because they were not sure of the appropriate way to get rid of them. As a service to the community, Mr. Healy will pick up collected batteries, separate out any that are hazardous and ensure that all of them are disposed of properly.
Batteries should be placed in a nonmetallic container that is small enough to be carried. Contact Mr. Healy at x3-6360 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 3, 2000.