Fact Checked

How do I Dispose of Batteries?

Deborah Ng
Deborah Ng

When batteries stop working, they should be removed and properly disposed of to avoid injury or damage to electronic devices. Certain types of batteries should be recycled or given to agencies that handle hazardous waste materials. You should identify what types you have, to ensure you dispose of batteries in the appropriate way. It is also important to keep used batteries separated, as they can react together in volatile ways.

Proper Storage Prior to Disposal


Once a battery loses power, you should remove it immediately from the device or object it is in, as it may begin to leak. Do not place it in your pocket or purse, since if it does rupture the chemicals within it can corrode other objects. Instead, place the battery in a container or resealable bag until you can dispose of it in the correct manner.

Identifying Hazardous Chemicals

A dry cell battery.
A dry cell battery.

Many regular, modern alkaline batteries are not considered hazardous waste and can be disposed of with normal household trash. For other batteries such as lithium, mercuric, and silver oxide as well as those containing nickel, however, you should err on the side of caution. You should follow the guidelines in your city or town regarding how to properly dispose of batteries.

Methods for Disposal

Rechargeable batteries.
Rechargeable batteries.

Since many types of batteries are considered household waste, you should follow proper guidelines for disposal. Your town or city most likely has a hazardous waste pick-up or drop-off day. Check with your city's website or newsletter to find what guidelines, if any, should be followed to properly dispose of batteries; hazardous waste days may be noted in your local newspaper. In most cases, batteries can be brought to your local recycling center at any time, or they can be picked up on your town's designated household waste disposal days.

Alternative Options for Disposal

Many regular alkaline batteries can be disposed of with normal trash.
Many regular alkaline batteries can be disposed of with normal trash.

Many automotive stores and other places that sell batteries accept them for recycling. In addition, there are commercial battery disposal organizations which recycle your batteries for a small fee. There may also be stores in your area with programs designed to help you dispose of batteries properly, which may do so free of charge.

Improper Methods

Never try to dispose of batteries in a fire; they are likely to ignite, explode, and possibly release toxic gases that can be dangerous to you and others nearby. You should also not bury batteries that contain hazardous chemicals in a garden or park. The elements in these batteries can leak into the ground and nearby water, presenting a hazard to the environment.

Hazards of Batteries Together

Alkaline batteries use a zinc-manganese formula.
Alkaline batteries use a zinc-manganese formula.

While you may want to dispose of batteries in a group, you should not store them together. Even though a battery might not be able to run a toy or game anymore, it might still have a small bit of charge left. If several batteries bang together, they can emit a charge that can cause them to ignite. While the chances of this happening may be small, it is still safest to be cautious and avoid the opportunity for injury or damage.

It is also important to not mix old and new batteries together in order to get an electronic item to work. The new batteries often have a powerful charge that can ignite chemicals released by ruptured or leaking older ones. This can cause damage to you or the electronic item using the batteries, so replace all batteries within a device at the same time.

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Discussion Comments


I think the best way is to buy rechargeable batteries.


I thought a non-rechargeable battery was the way to go before. Not to mention cheaper. But then I realized I could save more if I used rechargeable batteries. Makes for more ease of use -- not having to go to convenience stores when I run out of batteries. And yes, it seems I have saved a bit by using rechargeable types.


My problem is that all of our recycling centers are about 15 miles from us and considering the gas is an issue. On the bright side, I will check with Best Buy and Target (1 or so miles) about their battery policy. Now if only I could recycle cardboard that easily.


Are they making UV-powered batteries now?


Targets are now taking electronics and batteries, and they also take paper and plastic, so if I were you I would just put the old batteries and broken electronics to the side in a bag and when you go to Target dispose of them correctly.


Look for your nearest recycling depot.


I think the best way is to buy rechargeable batteries so that you can just reuse them each time. I am doing a science project on this subject and I think that is the best way.


Best Buy takes all kinds of batteries and electronics. Support them for this act of kindness.


Certain Jiffy Lubes allow you to drop off household batteries, etc. for safe recycling! Just called my local JL and they confirmed.


@anon33092 - What a question/statement. Don't you think that's what what everyone says? What harm can *one* more do? That's how millions upon millions of items that should never be thrown away end up in landfills, oceans, etc. Because everyone thinks that their little amount couldn't possibly contribute to the overall trashing of the earth. But when everyone's little amounts are added together, well... it becomes a vast amount.


Would be science geeks the lot of you, what extra harm can a 1.5v battery do to an already mass polluted world?


You should contact your local recycling coordinator, whether that be at the city level or the county...or even the state should be able to direct you.

Regular alkaline batteries (newer, within the last few years) can be thrown away...they now make them with such small amounts of materials that they are no longer considered hazardous.

Yes, you need to individually wrap the batteries so they don't short and cause a fire (some energy left in them can cause a spark when in contact with other batteries).

No, don't bury them in your garden. Please.


What? Keep each battery insulated in a separate ziplock bag in case they explode???? Are you serious??? Blah, to the trash they go.


Every site I read about how to reycle batteries says to take them to your "local recycling center". Well I have and they all say that cannot take them!


FYI some states in the US now forbid disposing batteries in the trash. I know this is the case in California -- no batteries of any kind in the trash.


@anon5876 -- Remind me not to eat anything you're growing... (i.e. don't bury things with lots of chemicals in your garden please...)


Is it OK to bury alkaline batterries in my garden? Will they provide good minerals to the soil when they decompose?


I live in Lewis Center, Ohio. How can I find the nearest recycling location that recycles batteries?

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