With the arrival of the annual Lantern Festival on Thursday, many people may already have prepared handheld lanterns to celebrate the holiday, prompting Taipei City’s Environmental Protection Bureau to remind the public yesterday that used batteries should be disposed of properly to avoid environmental pollution.
Each year before the Lantern Festival, local government agencies give out free do-it-yourself paper lanterns to the public, which can be easily assembled and lit using battery-powered lights.
The bureau said most of these lanterns are lit using button-cell batteries, alkaline batteries or non-button-type alkaline manganese batteries, and they can cause serious harm to the environment if not disposed of properly.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel, and can contaminate the environment if improperly disposed of by releasing certain metals into the air or concentrating them in ash when incinerated.
Instead of disposing used batteries as trash, the bureau said consumers should hand used batteries to the city government’s recycling trucks, chain convenience stores or supermarkets for proper recycling.
It said that according to the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法), manufacturers and importers of dry-cell batteries are not only required to register with the Environmental Protection Administration, but also pay a disposal fee every two months based on their reported sales or the quantity of batteries they imported.
Moreover, manufacturers and importers are also required to include “please recycle used batteries” on the packaging, label or instruction manual of products that are sold with batteries, it said.
The bureau added that lanterns sold with batteries are required to print “this battery complies with the Environmental Protection Administration’s regulations on mercury content” on the batteries or packaging.
Enhanced inspections of battery recycling points will be conducted to ensure the public can dispose of used batteries properly and easily, the bureau said.