Rio Rancho business bolstering battery recycling efforts ahead of Earth Day

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RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Earth Day is around the corner and one of the easiest ways to help the environment is to recycle batteries and keep them out of the trash.

"It’s really good to know that all batteries need to be recycled," said Bernadette King, the co-owner of an area Batteries Plus location. "We definitely don’t want to throw them away because that’s really bad for groundwater. It gets into the ecosystem. It’s really just hazardous in general."

King says even letting batteries sit in a drawer for an extended period of time can be dangerous because they can leak acid, short-circuit or start a fire.

"So there are a lot of places that will take the recyclables – including us – and we’ll package them, we’ll prepare them and do what needs to be done to make sure they’re safely disposed of," she said. "We have buckets for the different types of batteries. Depending on the chemistry, they have to be handled differently, like these lithium-ion batteries have to be sandwiched between sand – so we put them in static shielding bags, put a layer of sand or static shielding so there’s no risk of fire."

Lithium-ion is commonly found inside batteries that phones and laptops have. Occasionally, they can start to expand or even smoke.

"If your battery is swelling, definitely bring it in,” said Assistant Manager Juan Pintor. “It is a hazard, it could explode."

Batteries Plus accepts golf-cart and car batteries for recycling as well. They say they will take in one pound of recycled batteries for free at its Rio Rancho location April 22, then charge a small fee for each additional pound.

Apart from recycling, some other things people can also use a maintainer to extend the life of their batteries or buy rechargeable ones, to protect the environment.