How To Recycle Batteries

The Ultimate Guide to Battery Recycling

In the era of rapid climate change when species are going extinct every day and global temperatures are rising at an alarming rate, it is more important now than any time in human history to be mindful of our behavior. Mindful of the choices we make on a daily basis that can have a negative impact on our planet’s health. One of those behaviors that people do every day is the simple action of tossing used batteries into the garbage. Although this might seem like a harmless act, the fact is that improperly throwing away batteries can be very detrimental to the environment. Batteries are considered hazardous because of the harmful materials contained within them such as nickel, mercury, lead, and other components. However, what the majority most people are unaware of is that they are a valuable source of recyclable metal. This is where battery recycling comes in. 

The purpose of battery recycling is to decrease the number of batteries being disposed of as municipal solid waste and finding components in those batteries that can be reused or at minimum disposed of responsibly. Recycling most batteries with your regular day-to-day trash is harmful to the environment and may also lead to water and soil pollution. In this article, we will address all of your battery recycling related queries one by one. So, let’s start with: are batteries recyclable?

Are Batteries Recyclable?

You may be wondering are all batteries even recyclable? Can you throw away batteries? The answer is almost all batteries can’t be thrown away in the normal trash. However, to ensure their safe disposal, it is pertinent to categorize them. Mixing batteries during recycling is hazardous as each battery has a different chemistry and thus a different process for recycling. In order to stay sustainable, we need systems in place for safe battery recycling. Dividing them by type is the first step. The reason is that yes you can safely dispose of used alkaline batteries in the garbage, but the answer to “can you throw away rechargeable batteries” is no.

Lead Battery Recycling

The process for lead battery recycling is not only comparatively simpler also low-cost, as retrieved lead can be used in new batteries. Unsurprisingly, lead batteries have a successful recycling rate of almost 100% in North America and Europe

Nickel-Cadmium Battery Recycling

Nickel-cadmium batteries require disposal through a proper method or else they become a serious environmental hazard. This is why the European Union banned its production and use in 2009.

Nickel-Metal-Hydride Battery Recycling

Though these are less toxic than nickel-cadmium but still unsafe in large quantities. According to Battery University by Cadex Electronics, original NiMH batteries can be disposed of with household waste, but 10 or more batteries should go to a proper disposal service.

Primary Lithium Battery Recycling

Metallic lithium is highly volatile when in close proximity of moisture. Due to the fire risks these batteries present to customers, they should instead be disposed of according to the suppliers’ or your local waste management provider’s guidelines

Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling

Lithium-ion batteries have become increasingly popular in the market. Li-ion batteries are relatively non-toxic, but they become an issue because of the amount of them being made.

Alkaline Battery Recycling

These batteries are safe to dispose of as the government-sanctioned a decrease in mercury content since 1996. So after the alkaline batteries in tv remote control or other product are dead you can simply place them in the trash with other household waste. 

Electric Car Battery

Most vehicles’ battery are traditional lead-acid batteries. These are commonly recycled automotive batteries, but the same cannot be said for lithium-ion batteries used to power electric cars. That means a recycling option won’t be readily available for anyone looking to recycle EV batteries. Although electronics recycling centers are becoming more readily available, it is best to reach out to the vehicle’s manufacturer about what recycling option is best for a lithium-ion battery for an electric vehicle.

Please note that the types of batteries you can throw in the trash and recycling law can vary from state to state so the best advice is to contact waste collection dropoff sites or a recycling center near you to get the most accurate information regarding the safe recycling process in your state!

Battery Recycling

How Do I Recycle Household Batteries?

The most common household batteries are single-use batteries of all sizes. Single-use batteries can be seen all over the household in a range of sizes, including AA, AAA, 9V, D-cell, and others. These are the batteries contained in your remotes, lamps, children’s toys, and other small electronics. All non-rechargeable batteries fall into this category.

Single-use batteries are now deemed harmless by the federal government because they are made of conventional materials. Hence, it can be thrown away with your regular trash in all states except California. Not to mention, most of the times battery recycling carries a fee.

How Do I Prepare Single-Use Batteries For Recycling?

  • Put insulative tape on the corners of your recycling bags to prevent any hazards. 
  • You can store each battery individually while clearly labeling them.
  • Place them in a plastic/wooden container as they are good insulators.

How Do I Recycle Rechargeable Batteries?

More people are now turning to rechargeable batteries in an effort to be more eco-friendly, but if these batteries are not recycled properly they can have a very negative impact on the environment. You will be able to locate them in mobiles, digital cameras, and other power electronics in your home. Thankfully, anyone who wants to recycle rechargeable batteries can typically do so at no cost at many home improvement stores. Battery recycling Home Depot is one option as well as Lowes battery recycling facilities.

All and every type of rechargeable battery must NOT be thrown in your trash can. They contain materials that can be dangerous to their surroundings if they come in contact with moisture. This is why this practice is illegal in most states. The good news is finding a recycling location near you for any consumer battery can be as easy as a quick Google search for “Direct recycling location near” and then enter your city name!

Prepping Rechargeable Batteries For Recycling

Rechargeable battery recycling first starts with determining the condition of the said battery. If it s spent (or dead) battery simply:

  • Remove batteries from their electronics
  • Dead laptops and their batteries must be recycled individually
  • Cover the terminals with non-conductive tape clear tape

However, if the damaged battery is leaking it could potentially create fire hazards and you should therefore first scrub off any film or residue that could interfere with the recycling process.

Where Do I Dispose Of Used Batteries?

When it comes to disposing of batteries it is important to think locally!

Most towns contain information regarding battery recycling in the section listing “other types” of recycling. You will most probably be exposed to the best options available, and then it’s up to you to decide. This is a good place to begin! 

Battery Recycling Near Me

Battery recycling law prohibits nearly all battery types from being thrown into the trash can so it is important to find a local agency to help recycle any spent battery. Here are 5 options to help assist you with safely recycling most battery technology!

  1. Websites such as Call2Recycle offer online resources to assist in your battery recycling mission. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code to find the closest battery recycling center using their Recycling Locator.
  2. Similarly, Call2Recycle has a ZIP code option to locate one of their convenient battery recycling locations. Call2Recycle also offers a system of more than 34,000 local recycling centers and drop-off locations for battery recycling, comprising local municipalities and famous brands from Best Buy to The Home Depot. 
  3. Call 1-800-CLEANUP (1-800-253-2687) to facilitate finding the nearest battery recycling center. 
  4. eRecycle.org gives you ample information to assist in electronics and battery recycling.
  5. Explore your local government household hazardous waste agency’s website.

Free Battery Recycling Program Near Me

  • The Big Green Box™ is a national service that offers corporations, customers, municipalities, and others, simple and cost-effective methods for battery recycling.
  • Battery Solutions sells battery recycling solutions to the public as well as the local government.
  • Retriev Technologies Inc is a firm that reprocesses most kinds and sizes of batteries including alkaline, NiCd, Lead among many others.
  • Kinsbursky Brothers Inc is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authorized battery recycling facility in California.
  • Aqua Metals is an enterprise that uses aqua refining to salvage lead-acid batteries.

Why is battery recycling the best solution? Why put in the extra effort? Well, it results in the conservation of natural resources, such as metals. Moreover, it helps prevent pollution by decreasing the demand for new raw materials. Not only does it helps create new jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States, but the recycled material can be reprocessed in the production of other products.

Most importantly, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global climate change. Battery recycling helps sustain the environment for future generations. If you want a safe, secure, and healthy future for your grandchildren, put in the 10-15 minutes of minimal extra work today and see the magical results!

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