I've been wanting to blog about this for months but I haven't come up with any good solution. Now, I'm just tired of thinking about it so I'd post something.
For several glorious years I was able to take my generic alkaline batteries to IKEA for recycling. But apparently they ran afoul of some federal regulation re transportation of dangerous chemicals like those in batteries.
So IKEA stopped rather than spend more on their recycling program.
I've since learned that Europe mandates that all battery resellers must offer recycling, as well. In the US we have something similar but it only covers rechargeable batteries. I suppose this was meant to encourage people to buy the more expensive rechargeable models, but I also suspect it had more than a little to do with keeping resellers' costs down (and profits up).
2/14/11 UPDATE: The announcement on IKEA's web-site is no longer there. Instead -- and just to prove I didn't make the whole thing up! :-) -- here's another blog that mentioned the same incident, Sincerely Sustainable.
Also, I have since learned that the local Waste Management Corp will recycle non-rechargeable batteries! Their web-page re Household Hazardous Materials does not include batteries but their Recycling Center accepts them, i.e., they're not really considered 'hazardous'? Also, this service is only supposed to be available for residents of East County?
OFFICIAL SAN DIEGO 'PLAN'
Also, and I don't think I blogged about this earlier, there is an official City of San Diego plan for recycling batteries but it's preposterous. Basically, it's illegal to throw away batteries but your only (free) legal alternative is to make an appointment at the city's Hazardous Waste Dropoff. This is the building outside the Miramar dump. Sounds good, right? Well, they're only open from 9am to 3pm on Saturday and you need to make an appointment first?!
Now, let's try to do some math here: There are 3M people living in San Diego and assuming there are 6 people per household (which I think is too high but the math is easier) then there are half-million households needing to drop off their waste/batteries. The drop-off is only open for 6 hours per week, times "50" weeks per year, equals 300 total hours for 500,000 groups to do their drop-off. Even if just ONE PERCENT of the households try to comply with this rule that leaves them each less than 4 minutes to do their drop-off. And that's if everything is perfectly choreographed. If ten percent of households tried to recycle properly then they'd each have 30 seconds to make their dropoff. Hmm....