How to Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries

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Many everyday household items need disposing of properly. Typically across America, we don’t think twice about just tossing them into the trash. In our newest blog series ‘How to Dispose of,’ we will look at everyday items and how to best dispose of them. We started by looking at the single-use household battery. In this blog, we will look at rechargeable batteries. What do you do with them when they die, and what should you be doing with them?

Disposing of Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries are standard in most homes. You find them in power tools, phones, laptops, and cameras, to name a few. It is important to remember there are different kinds of rechargeable batteries.

  • Nickel metal hydride and nickel-cadmium batteries typically found in power tools, two-way radios, and cordless phones.
  • Lithium-ion batteries generally found in most portable devices such as cellphones, laptops, and digital cameras.
  • Though a less common type of battery, small sealed lead-acid batteries found in many commercial properties in the following ways; emergency devices, emergency exit signs, security systems, as well as mobility scooters, and other special-use items.

Should rechargeable batteries be thrown in the trash?

Rechargeable batteries should never be placed in a trash can (or dumpster) with everyday waste. In some states, it is illegal to through them in the trash since rechargeable batteries contain heavy metals that are hazardous to the environment.

“First, some batteries have potentially toxic metals in them such as cadmium, lead and, historically, mercury. Diverting these metals from landfills and recycling them instead is important to ensure that the metals don’t leak out of landfills and pollute our drinking water. Second, most batteries can be recycled, which means potentially valuable material, particularly metals, can be reclaimed from them. Recycling batteries minimizes the need to mine virgin resources.”  Carl Smith | CEO & President of Call2Recycle, Inc.

Can rechargeable batteries be recycled?

Recycling rechargeable batteries is the best way to dispose of these batteries, typically at no cost to you. Here are the three steps for recycling them.

1.  Find out where to recycle rechargeable batteries

  • Many home improvement or office supply stores collect rechargeable batteries or products by having a collection box from organizations like Call2Recycle. Next time you go to one of these stores, look for the dropbox, or ask an employee if they have this service available.
  • To find other recycling centers use resources such as Earth911’s Recycling Search, contact Sunrise Sanitation or city hall to see what is available in your area.

2.  Prep your rechargeable batteries

  • Remove batteries from the electronics. For example, laptops have to be recycled separately for the batteries. Though not required for all small electronics like cellphones or iPods, most battery recyclers will take these.
  • Cover the terminals with tape to keep the batteries from discharging.
You should never ever throw them in the garbage
Laptops must be recycled apart from the battery.

3.  Deliver your batteries to the recycle center

If your delivery process is through the mail, you need to check with your postal service of choice for any additional safety steps required for shipping; some shippers require labeling the box with the fact that it contains batteries.

Batteries and any other types of industrial or household waste could contribute chemicals to the environment and should be handled with care as you are thinking of disposing of them. As you are looking to dispose of other everyday household items, look at our Reuse, and Recycle blog for alternative disposal options before tossing them in your trash dumpster.

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