Local Student Plugs Recycling With Old-Battery Bins

Emily Battaglia, an 8th-grader from San Marino, helped place battery recycling bins like this one in the UPS Store and Crowell Public Library in town.
Emily Battaglia, an 8th-grader from San Marino, helped place battery recycling bins like this one in the UPS Store and Crowell Public Library in town.

Don’t know what to do with your old batteries?
Thanks to an enterprising San Marino girl, you can drop them off at either Crowell Public Library or the local UPS Store so that they may be properly and safely recycled.
Thirteen-year-old Emily Battaglia, an 8th-grader at Flintridge Preparatory School, got curious about how batteries were disposed after changing them out of her younger siblings’ toys. To find out, she reached out to the Los Angeles County Environmental Services program.
“I learned how dangerous batteries actually were,” Battaglia said, explaining that they can spontaneously combust when exposed to certain chemicals. “I knew they were dangerous, but I didn’t know they can also leak into the groundwater and cause so much harm.”
The small brown bins will be at those two locations until sometime in January, after which she’ll collect them and bring them to a county recycling center. She also plans to host a battery collection event from 9 a.m.-noon Sunday, Jan. 7, in the parking lot at 547 E. Union St., Pasadena.
Batteries contain toxic heavy metals, including mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel, which can have harmful effects if leaked into soil or groundwater and come in contact with people and animals. Dry cell batteries (AA, AA, C, D and 9-volt varieties) and button batteries (such as watch, hearing aid and camera batteries) are being accepted in the bins.
“Once word gets out, more people will stop by,” Battaglia said. “There’s some activity at my school as well.”
Battaglia’s mother, Una, said they hope to facilitate L.A. County setting up a permanent bin at the library, as they do in other areas. She said they both became interested in this project after asking friends how to dispose of them and not getting an answer.
“She wanted it to be something sustainable, not just a two-month thing,” Una Battaglia said. “What we’re hoping is that L.A. County can partner with the library. They do a lot with local libraries and they pick up [the containers]. They do all of that. She’ll do this for the two months and hopefully we can arrange for the library to be the long-term place for battery recycling.”

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