From flashlights and razors, to toys and remote controls, dozens of items around the house require batteries.
Every year, Americans buy, use and throw away billions of batteries.
How do you know which ones are safe to toss into your household trash and which ones should be recycled?
Some batteries are extremely corrosive and they can pose an environmental hazard.
Kathy Matson says her grandson goes through dozens of batteries each year and she recycles them because she's concerned about their impact on the environment.
"I feel like anything that goes into the ground is going to come back up somehow in the water," Matson says.
She could be right.
Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, batteries can pollute the environment if they are disposed of improperly.
If batteries are burned, the metals inside could be released into the air causing contamination.
Most batteries tossed in garbage cans usually end up in a landfill. Most landfills in the United States contain a liner designed to catch anything that seeps out of our garbage, but certain corrosive items, including some batteries, could damage these liners causing contaminants to seep into the ground and, possibly, our water supply.
Chemist Kenn Webb is with EcoFlo, a company in Greensboro, NC, that collects used batteries. He says putting corrosive batteries in our landfills could lead to a potential environmental problem.
"It behooves the landfill manager to protect their liner by preventing the wrong materials from getting into that landfill," Webb warns.
A Power-pak is a type of battery found in many garage tools like a drill. They are rechargeable and contain Nikel-Cadmium.
Tiny batteries, the ones smaller than the tip of your finger, are referred to as 'button' batteries and they contain Lithium. They're commonly used in watches, hearing aids and other smaller electronics.
Your typical D-cell battery contains Alkaline.
Experts say regardless of the batteries you have laying around the house, you should take them to a recycling center.
That's where we found EcoFlo Technician Mark Montalbano. He knows what's inside all types of batteries and exactly where to send them.
"We have what they call waste streams and we would put acids in certain waste streams, we'd put Alkaline in certain waste streams," Montalbano said.
Once he sorts and bags these batteries, he sends them to EcoFlo's hazardous waste collection center.
From there, the batteries go onto what's called the 'secondary recycling market' where they are shredded and salvaged for all the chemical components inside.
Some batteries are more valuable to recyclers than others. For example, chemicals in a rechargeable battery are extremely valuable to recyclers, but there's little demand for Alkaline batteries at this time.
The best place to take your old batteries is a household hazardous recycling center, but if there isn't one near you, some businesses like Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples and Verizon will accept old batteries depending on the type of battery.
Stores that specialize in selling batteries will also take used batteries or you can search online for groups that accept them on a return basis.
"If we have another option other than putting it in with our household garbage, then we need to exercise that option," Webb says.
Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.