Seattle Implements Ban on Disposing Batteries and Electronics in Garbage

New regulations aim to protect human health and the environment

Seattle residents are now required to dispose of batteries and certain electronic products through designated recycling programs rather than throwing them in the garbage. The ban, which went into effect on January 1, is an effort to mitigate the environmental and health risks associated with the improper disposal of these items. Mayor Bruce Harrell and Seattle Fire Department Chief Harold Scoggins will address the public at a press conference to shed light on the importance of this new regulation.

Environmental and Health Risks of Improper Disposal

The decision to ban the disposal of batteries and electronic products in the garbage stems from the recognition that these items contain hazardous substances, including heavy metals, that can be harmful to both human health and the environment. Mercury, lead, cadmium, lithium, and other metals found in batteries can leak and cause damage to the environment if not properly disposed of. Additionally, certain types of batteries have the potential to cause fires, posing risks to waste collection staff, vehicles, and facilities.

Prohibited Items

Under the new regulations, the following items are no longer allowed to be thrown in the garbage: cathode ray tubes, TVs, monitors, computers and laptops, tablets (such as iPad and Amazon Fire), e-readers (such as Kindle and NOOK), portable DVD players, and various types of batteries, including miniature button cell batteries, alkaline, silver oxide, zinc air, lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and other rechargeable batteries.

Proper Disposal Methods

To ensure the safe disposal of these items, Seattle offers curbside pickup options for residential customers through the Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). Residents can submit a request online or call SPU Customer Service to schedule a pickup for a fee. Account holders have access to special pickups for foam blocks and used cooking and motor oil, which are free of charge. The cost for other items varies, with small propane canisters, CFLs, and household batteries priced at $5, a special items box for multiple small special items (electronics, household batteries, small appliances, etc.) priced at $20, and large furniture, appliances, and TVs larger than 2′ x 2′ x 2′ priced at $30. Items containing CFCs, such as refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 2005, incur a fee of $38.

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Environmental Benefits of Recycling

Recycling batteries and electronic products not only prevents the release of toxic materials into landfills but also reduces the negative impacts of producing new products on the air, water, and climate. Many of these items contain valuable materials like mercury, lead, cadmium, nickel, and lithium, which can be safely recycled and reused in the production of new products. By keeping these toxic materials out of landfills, Seattle aims to protect the environment and promote sustainability.

Fire Safety Concerns

Seattle Fire Department Chief Harold Scoggins highlights the growing concern of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries. Over the past two years, the department has responded to 79 fires involving lithium-ion batteries, often linked to e-scooters, e-bikes, and portable electronics. The proper storage, charging, and disposal of batteries play a crucial role in preventing fires and minimizing the potential for injuries and property loss.

Conclusion:

Seattle’s ban on disposing of batteries and electronic products in the garbage aims to safeguard human health and the environment from the hazards associated with improper disposal. By implementing designated recycling programs, the city encourages residents to take responsibility for the safe disposal of these items. Recycling batteries and electronics not only prevents the release of toxic substances but also contributes to the conservation of valuable materials. As Seattle takes this proactive step, it sets an example for other cities to address the growing concerns surrounding electronic waste and fire safety.