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How do I Dispose of Batteries?

By Deborah Ng
Updated May 16, 2024
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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

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

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 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

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.

FAQ on How to Dispose of Batteries

What is the proper way to dispose of alkaline batteries?

Alkaline batteries, commonly used in household items, can often be disposed of with regular trash in many areas since they are not classified as hazardous waste. However, it's best to check with your local waste management guidelines as some regions have specific disposal instructions or recycling programs. For example, in California, all batteries must be recycled or taken to a household hazardous waste disposal facility, a universal waste handler, or an authorized recycling facility.

Can I recycle rechargeable batteries, and if so, how?

Yes, rechargeable batteries should be recycled due to their toxic components. They can be taken to a local recycling facility, a battery retailer that offers take-back services, or through mail-in programs. Organizations like Call2Recycle (call2recycle.org) offer a convenient locator tool to find nearby recycling options. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling batteries conserves natural resources and prevents air and water pollution stemming from improper disposal.

Is it safe to throw away button cell batteries in the trash?

Button cell batteries should not be thrown in the trash due to their small size and high content of hazardous materials like mercury, cadmium, and lithium. These batteries can pose environmental risks and health hazards if not disposed of properly. They should be taken to a recycling center or a hazardous waste collection site. Some watch or electronics stores may also accept them for recycling.

How do I prepare batteries for recycling?

Before recycling batteries, it's important to prepare them correctly to prevent any risks of fire or chemical leaks. For lithium-ion and rechargeable batteries, it's recommended to tape the terminals or place each battery in a separate plastic bag. This prevents them from short-circuiting or reacting with other metals. Always follow the specific instructions provided by the recycling facility or program you are using.

Are there any laws regulating battery disposal?

Yes, there are laws and regulations that govern battery disposal, which vary by country and region. In the United States, for instance, the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act mandates the recycling of nickel-cadmium and certain small sealed lead-acid batteries. Additionally, many states have their own regulations; for example, New York State requires all retailers that sell rechargeable batteries to accept them back for recycling.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By mayluobatty — On May 20, 2012

I think the best way is to buy rechargeable batteries.

By anon191050 — On Jun 28, 2011

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.

By anon144362 — On Jan 19, 2011

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.

By anon111398 — On Sep 16, 2010

Are they making UV-powered batteries now?

By anon97195 — On Jul 18, 2010

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.

By anon85476 — On May 20, 2010

Look for your nearest recycling depot.

By anon81912 — On May 03, 2010

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.

By anon75304 — On Apr 06, 2010

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

By anon66386 — On Feb 19, 2010

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

By anon34364 — On Jun 21, 2009

@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.

By anon33092 — On Jun 01, 2009

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

By anon29355 — On Mar 31, 2009

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.

By anon19205 — On Oct 07, 2008

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

By anon16583 — On Aug 09, 2008

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!

By anon12319 — On May 04, 2008

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.

By anon6295 — On Dec 22, 2007

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

By anon5876 — On Dec 09, 2007

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

By anon5213 — On Nov 17, 2007

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

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