As sailors we realize that one important issue in today's world of portable electronics is the proper storage and disposal of batteries. Always make sure to carry on board your vessel sufficient spare batteries to last during each phase of your cruise — with a few extras thrown in for emergencies. Spare batteries should be stored in their original packaging until used, but then save this packaging for future use.
Packaged batteries should be stored in a plastic or cardboard container which itself is stored in a dry, cool location on your boat that is handy and easy to get to during an emergency. If you are storing rechargeable batteries they should be charged up to at least 40 percent of their full charge capacities.
Before storing used or discharged batteries prior to disposal/recycling, it is important to adhere to the following procedures:
1. Tape the positive terminals with electrical tape.
2. In the case of 9-volt batteries, reuse the plastic insulating caps that snap onto the battery terminals.
3. Place the spent batteries back into their original packaging; make sure to keep positive and negative terminals away from each other.
4. It is important not to store new and discharged batteries together, so use a separate plastic or cardboard container to store your used-up batteries.
5. Mark this storage container “Ready for Disposal/Recycle.”
6. Again find a dry, cool location to store these spent batteries, but one that is a bit out of the way and not so readily available.
We should all take steps to use eco-friendly batteries if possible and to that end I have the following suggestions:
1. Select alkaline batteries when possible.
2. Opt for silver oxide and zinc-air batteries instead of mercury-oxide types.
3. Use rechargeable batteries when possible.
4. Buying hand-operated or solar-powered devices when possible.
There are many types of batteries, but basically only three disposal options as follows: alkaline and rechargeable alkaline, nickel metal hydride, and carbon zinc. These should be taken to the nearest hazardous waste collection site ashore.
Duracell brand alkaline batteries can safely be disposed of with normal household waste according to the manufacturer. This is because Duracell has voluntarily eliminated mercury from their alkaline batteries since 1993. The EPA, however, still recommends taking them to a local hazardous waste collection site. Button batteries, lithium and lithium-ion, lead acid and nickel-cadmium types should go to a battery recycling center.
Lead-acid vehicle batteries should be turned in at battery retailers, when procuring replacement batteries.
One last thing that should be obvious, never dispose of batteries in fire because they can explode! Remember to be cautious with batteries and treat them with respect. Until next time — more power to you!