If batteries are not recycled, they must be disposed of as hazardous waste. Due to the harmful materials inside, car batteries need to be taken somewhere that is equipped to dispose of them properly, such as a battery retailer or a local hazardous waste collection program.
Batteries provide power for all kinds of portable devices. Battery power is used in everything from cordless phones and laptops to cars and toys. Eventually the battery or power will kill the device or it won’t charge. In other words, it’s time to switch.
Knowing how to properly dispose of batteries helps the environment. Learn about the safe disposal of rechargeable AA batteries and disposable alkaline batteries. This guide provides advice on the disposal and recycling of batteries.
Keep reading to learn more about the different types of household batteries and how to dispose of them.
Disposable and Rechargeable batteries
There are two main types of batteries in use: rechargeable and disposable or disposable.
The rechargeable batteries can be replaced as many times as necessary before replacement. Used in cordless phones, smart phones, digital cameras, etc. Power tools and similar devices that consume energy also wear out quickly.
Disposable batteries are used in alarm clocks, remote controls and other devices. They are designed to run as long as the cell produces electricity.
How to Dispose of Household Batteries?
Getting Rid of Single-Use Batteries
Some of the most common household batteries are disposable batteries of any size. Disposable batteries are everywhere in the house in different sizes, such as AA, AAA, 9V and D cells.
These are the batteries found in TV remote controls, flashlights, children’s toys and other small electronics. If the battery is non-rechargeable, it falls into this category.
Can disposable batteries be thrown away?
Yes, disposable batteries are currently made from common metals that are considered harmless by the federal government and can be disposed of in regular trash in all states except California. It is illegal to dispose of batteries of any type in California.
Until 1996, disposable batteries contained mercury and were considered hazardous waste. The exception is button batteries used in watches. It is dangerous and should be disposed of like any rechargeable battery.
Can disposable batteries be recycled?
Yes, disposable batteries can be recycled, but in most cases, there is a charge for recycling.
How to recycle disposable batteries:
- Contact your local solid waste district to find out if your community has an upcoming collection program or event.
- Use Earth911’s recycling search to find recycling centers in your area that accept disposable batteries.
- Look for mail-in recycling programs that accept batteries. Most of these programs sell containers for storing used batteries. Both Battery Solutions and Call2Recycle offer mail-order alkaline battery recycling options.
Pro tip: You can reduce the need to dispose of disposable batteries by purchasing rechargeable batteries. They can be used more than 1000 times and can be recycled for free.
Safely Removing a Car Battery
Whether your battery has lasted more than 3, 5 or 10 years, your battery may have died. Older batteries don’t hold a charge for long, don’t work efficiently in extreme temperatures, and are prone to leaks. However, before replacing the battery, you should safely remove it.
How To Remove a Car Battery?
Here are the simple steps to remove your car battery:
1. Safety first
First, you must wear gloves and protective equipment. Old batteries can leak and be dangerous if exposed to battery acid.
2. Disconnect the negative cable
Disconnect the cable from the negative pole of the battery. Black or gray coating is required. A wrench must be used to loosen the terminal nut. Do not let the wrench touch both terminals at the same time.
3. Remove the positive cable
Disconnect the cable from the red-coated positive terminal.
4. Inspection and removal
Almost all batteries have a retaining device in the form of a strap or block at the bottom where you disconnect the battery terminals. This should also be removed. After doing this, check to see if there are clips, straps, or other safety features that hold the battery in place.
After removal, make sure there are no cracks, holes, or other surface damage that could cause battery fluid to leak. Pay attention to battery leakage. Battery acid is irritating and can cause burns and even long-term health problems.
How to Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries?
- Rechargeable batteries are also common in homes. You can find them in cell phones, digital cameras, power tools, laptops, and other more powerful electronic devices in your home.
- There are different types of rechargeable batteries.
- Nickel-metal hydride and nickel-cadmium batteries are used in electronic devices such as cordless power tools, digital cameras, two-way radios, and cordless phones.
- Lithium-ion batteries are found in most portable devices such as cell phones and laptops.
- Small sealed lead acid batteries are less common in homes and are used in emergency equipment, exit signs, security systems, mobility scooters and other special applications.
How to Dispose of Alkaline Batteries?
Alkaline batteries include AA, AAA, 9V and D cells. A small battery can power a remote control or a flashlight. High-capacity batteries power smoke detectors, clocks, and wireless consumer devices. The battery can still generate current even when the cells are no longer powering the device. Improper disposal can be dangerous. Observe the following before disposal.
- Collect used household batteries in containers. Cardboard boxes or plastic containers are safe options.
- Tap the 9V battery terminals before launching to avoid fire hazard.
How to Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries?
The types of rechargeable batteries used are lithium ion and nickel cadmium. Other types are nickel-metal hydride batteries, nickel-zinc batteries, and small sealed lead-acid batteries. The toxic metals that produce energy in these batteries can harm the environment if disposed of incorrectly.
Rechargeable 9-volt batteries, AA and AAA batteries, and household D-cells are similar to alkaline batteries. The difference is that it is compatible with any compatible plug-in charger. Rechargeable batteries are recycled. Look for the battery recycling label on the rechargeable battery.
Tip: Remove batteries from damaged cordless phones, smartphones, and laptops. Whether you donate, throw away or recycle your device, you can always use it.
Can rechargeable batteries be thrown in the trash?
No, you should not put rechargeable batteries of any kind in the trash (or dumpster). Rechargeable batteries contain heavy metals that are harmful to the environment and are illegal in some states.
Batteries contain chemicals and metals that undergo reactions that produce electrical energy. Battery recycling is recommended to protect the environment, but some types can be thrown away. Ordinary household alkaline batteries are considered harmless. Alkaline batteries can be disposed of with normal waste.
Button cell batteries, like those used in remote car starters and clocks, contain silver and mercury. Must be recycled All household batteries are classified as hazardous waste in California. Batteries should be taken to a household hazardous waste disposal facility. Another option is to recycle at a licensed recycling center in your state.
Can rechargeable batteries be recycled?
Yes, rechargeable batteries can and should usually be recycled for free.
Where to recycle rechargeable batteries:
Home and office supply stores often accept recycling of these products by hosting drop boxes from organizations like Call2Recycle. Find a box that recycles batteries near you.
Use the Earth911 recycling locator to find other recycling facilities or contact your local solid waste district or city hall.
Battery preparation for recycling
Once you understand how to recycle your old battery, take a few minutes to prepare it for safe and convenient recycling.
Preparing disposable batteries for recycling:
- Apply transparent non-conductive tape to the edges to prevent current transfer. Instead of taping the ends together, you can bag each battery individually.
- Store the battery in a non-conductive plastic or cardboard container in case of sparks.
Preparation of rechargeable batteries for recycling:
- Remove batteries from electronic devices. Dead laptops should be recycled separately from dead laptop batteries. This is not necessary for small electronic devices such as cell phones or iPods and is acceptable for most battery recyclers.
- Cover the terminals with a clear strip of non-conductive tape.
If you plan to mail your battery to a recycling center, check for any additional safety procedures required for shipping.
Batteries and other types of waste that can introduce chemicals into the environment should be handled with care, especially during disposal. If you have more items to throw away, check out the reuse and recycle section of our blog for disposal options before throwing them in the trash.