GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)- Throwing your household batteries or devices containing batteries into your curbside bins poses a bigger environmental hazard than you might expect.

Mark Walter, a Business Development Manager at the Brown County Port and Resource Recovery Department, explains what can happen if household batteries are disposed of improperly:

“They have the potential to start fires in those bins and as they go down the line in the collection process. They can start a fire in trucks because they are compacted and compressed a little bit so if they get damaged, they can start a fire. Once they get to our facility and they are tipped out onto our floor they can get run over by machinery and greater damage caused by starting a fire there and further down the line they can start a fire someplace else at another facility, at landfills or at a recycling facility.”, says Walter.

To prevent batteries from entering the waste stream, the Brown County Resource Recovery Department has launched a new, free takeback program called ‘Batteries NOW Included’ with the goal set of making residents aware of where batteries should be going:

“This is something that the goal would be to change people’s behavior and get people to think more about where those batteries should be going.”, says Walter.

There are multiple types of batteries, including Alkaline, Lithium Ion, Nickel Cadmium, Button Cell, and Rechargeables. If you are unsure as to what each battery contains, Walter says to play it safe and bring them in and let the expert team at the Brown County Hazardous Material Recovery Center separate and segregate it appropriately so that it does not pose any harm to the environment.

“We don’t want people to have to worry about whether something is Alkaline or whether its Lithium Ion or whether its Nickel Cardamine or whatever. We are taking all of those batteries from your household so people don’t have to worry about them so that they can start thinking about changing where they are taking them.”

This new initiative is one that has no end date in mind and will continue on a long-term basis. This initiative is a pilot program for the state of Wisconsin, and Walter says he hopes more of these can pop up across the state.

The Brown County Hazardous Material Recovery Center is located on South Broadway and is open for drop-off on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from noon until 6 p.m. They ask drivers to remain in their vehicles and that hazardous materials be placed in the trunk, lift gate, or truck bed.