Allen County plans to use a grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to educate the public on proper battery storage and recycling methods. The Allen County Board of Commissioners committed June 12 to match a $5,000 state community grant awarded to the Allen County Department of Environmental Management, which will go toward revamping ACDEM’s battery recycling program.

ACDEM offers household battery recycling free of charge, in an effort to keep toxins such as lead and mercury out of landfills. Recycling locations are available at several battery and hardware stores throughout the county. While many residents are aware of the program, few know how to properly prepare their batteries before dropping them off, ACDEM Director Tom Fox said.

“Over the last several years, batteries have become somewhat more dangerous, partially because of the popularity of lithium batteries,” Fox explained.

Although it is not an extremely common occurrence, Fox said, when the tips of batteries come in contact with each other, they can create a spark causing fire and releasing harmful fumes into the air. In order to prevent this, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires that the ends of batteries be taped over before recycling.

Currently, after ACDEM transports batteries to its recycling facility, crews from Allen County Community Corrections sort and tape the batteries. Although that absolves residents of the responsibility, it does take time and money, Fox said.

With the $10,000 grant, ACDEM plans to kick off a recycling education campaign Nov. 15, which will coincide with America Recycles Day. The department plans to purchase battery receptacles made of recycled plastic and equipped with information on proper taping methods, which will be distributed to drop-off locations and given out to residents. Fox said hardware and battery stores will eventually require that residents tape their batteries before dropping them off.

“If we can educate people to do it before they bring them to the hardware stores to drop them off, that will be a tremendous effort,” Fox said. “Not only will it save us time and effort, it will also be a safety thing and will also educate people about storing the batteries in their own homes.”

ACDEM also plans to publish battery recycling information on its website and social media platforms, and launch a televised public service announcement.

For a full list of battery recycling locations, visit acwastewatcher.org.

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