Most people are not aware of how to dispose of batteries. If you throw your batteries in the trash, they end up in a landfill and spend decades leeching harmful chemicals into our soil and water. The damage to the environment is even worse when you throw away rechargeable batteries, such as the battery in your laptop or digital camera. The most important question is are batteries recyclable? Yes, There are sustainable ways to recycle or dispose of your batteries to prevent them from harming our environment.
Why Recycle Batteries?
Single-use and rechargeable batteries contain toxic substances such as cadmium, lead, and even mercury. The reactive chemicals and metals in a battery help generate electrical energy. Recycling these materials can help protect our environment.
Batteries consist of steel shells, brass pin collectors, manganese dioxide, a zinc anode, and a carbon cathode. All these materials are recyclable and reusable. Recycling helps to keep these substances from going into a landfill and polluting the soil and groundwater. Sending your batteries to a recycling center helps prevent unnecessary mining of natural resources.
Single-use alkaline batteries are safe to dispose of in the garbage, as they are non-hazardous.
How to Dispose of Single-Use Batteries?
The AA or AAA batteries used in our wall clocks, TV remotes, toys, and computer mice are known as single-use batteries. Instead of throwing these batteries away, consider recycling them. There are different ways of recycling single-use batteries, but it can’t be done in your curbside recycling bin.
Here is some helpful information about the safe and sustainable methods of recycling single-use batteries:
Single-use Battery Recycling Preparation
To prepare a spent battery for recycling, follow the steps listed below:
- Shut down your device and remove the battery. Inspect your batteries to ensure that no liquid has leaked out of them. If it has, clean it up and the inside of your device.
- If your battery has leaked any liquid, it may not be suitable for recycling.
- Store batteries in a way that ensures that their active ends do not touch each other.
- Do not store spent batteries in a place exposed to excessive heat or cold; it may harm the batteries and potentially start a fire.
Why Recycle Single-Use Batteries?
Single-use batteries contain hazardous elements that may be volatile or dangerous if mishandled. If a spent single-use battery lands in a place with excessive heat or compression, it may explode and cause injuries. Besides, batteries contain valuable materials that can be reused or recycled to make new products.
Materials such as cadmium, lead, and manganese are non-renewable. If these materials are reused from old batteries, it can help conserve natural resources and helps preserve the environment.
How to Recycle Single-Use Batteries?
Recycling single-use batteries differ depending on the kind of batteries you wish to recycle. Some batteries can easily be recycled at your local recycling centre. For others, you may have to find a specialized recycling facility. For some recycling options, you may even need to pay a fee. Here are some excellent options for recycling single-use batteries:
Free Recycling Options
Check with your local waste management authorities if they collect single-use batteries for recycling. Sometimes, local authorities organize dedicated drives to collect household hazardous waste. You can also talk to the local hardware stores, as they may accept batteries for recycling – but it is not always accessible.
Paid Recycling Options
Alkaline batteries such as AA, AAA, 9-volt, D and C can be recycled at stores like Batteries+Bulbs. They usually charge a small fee and have a range of recycling services. If you have button cell batteries, check with your area’s watch stores, jewellery stores, and car dealerships. You can also write to the various mail-in recycling options.
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How to Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries?
Rechargeable batteries are standard in every home. You can find them in cell phones, digital cameras, power tools, laptops, and other powerful electronic goods. There are many rechargeable batteries, and the best way to dispose of or recycle them differs according to the battery.
- Nickel Metal Hydride & Nickel Cadmium Batteries – Found in cordless power tools, digital cameras, two-way radios, and cordless phones.
- Lithium-Ion Batteries – Found in portable devices such as cell phones and laptops.
- Small Sealed Lead Acid Batteries – Found in emergency devices, emergency exit signs, security systems, mobility scooters, and other items. They are not so common in homes.
If you need to dispose of or recycle rechargeable batteries, you should know and understand the following:
Rechargeable Battery Recycling Preparations
Turn the device off and remove the battery from the socket. Then, follow the steps listed below:
- Clean the battery and check for any leaks. Also, clean your device to remove any liquid that may have leaked from the battery.
- Store the spent battery or batteries in a non-flammable material like sand. Check with the recycling centre near you how they accept rechargeable batteries for recycling.
- When storing spent batteries, ensure that their active ends are covered with a non-conducting material like electrical tape.
- Ensure that the spent battery is stored in a cool and dry area. Storing batteries in excessive heat or cold may cause a fire.
Rechargeable batteries can and should be recycled. On no account should rechargeable batteries be thrown in the trash. In some states of the USA, it is illegal to throw rechargeable batteries in the trash bin. It is hazardous to the environment.
Why Recycle Rechargeable Batteries?
Batteries are made of volatile and hazardous materials such as cadmium, lead, and lithium. Leaving them to corrode in a garbage dump can leech these substances into the soil and water and pollute our environment. Besides, materials like steel, brass, and nickel used to make batteries can be reused to make more batteries or other products. It will prevent excessive mining of new minerals and help conserve the earth’s natural resources.
How to Recycle Rechargeable Batteries?
Rechargeable batteries are often easier to recycle than single-use batteries. Here are the different options for recycling rechargeable batteries:
Free Recycling Options
Several non-profit organizations collaborate with retailers and collect rechargeable batteries to recycle them. Local municipalities and solid waste disposal authorities also make provisions for recycling rechargeable batteries.
Paid Recycling Options
Rechargeable household batteries can be recycled at the Batteries+Bulbs store. They charge a nominal fee. You can also exchange spent batteries for power tools, new batteries, and other goods.
Why it is Important to Recycling Batteries?
If you still feel recycling batteries is not worth your time and effort, consider the points below:
- You are endangering your home and the sanitation workers by dumping used batteries in the trash. Recycling batteries is safer than disposing of batteries in the trash bin. Improper handling of spent batteries may lead to fire or explosions.
- Even if your municipal authorities allow you to throw alkaline batteries and carbon-zinc batteries in the dustbin, it is recommended that you recycle them. It will be easier than remembering which batteries go where and making a wrong decision in confusion.
- Local ecosystems suffer when batteries are disposed of improperly.
- Recycled batteries can offer valuable materials that can be reused to make new batteries and electronic goods.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Recycle Batteries in My Curbside Recycling Bin?
As single-use and rechargeable batteries are categorized as hazardous waste, you are unlikely to recycle batteries in your curbside recycling bin. You can check for special collection drives by municipal authorities for batteries and electronics.
What Are the Most Common Types of Single-Use Batteries I Might Use at Home?
There are various types of single-use batteries commonly used in homes. Some of them are listed below:
- Alkaline Batteries – For TV remotes, flashlights, wireless mice, and clocks
- Button Cell – For watches and hearing aids
- Lithium Single-Use – Found in cameras, watches, handheld games, and smoke detectors
- Silver Oxide – Small electronic items like calculators, smart watches, and hearing aids have silver oxide batteries
- Zinc-Air – Also made in button form for use in small appliances.
- Zinc-Carbon – Single-use batteries for TV remotes, clocks, smoke detectors, and emergency lights.
Can Lithium Batteries Be Recycled?
Lithium-ion batteries can and should be recycled. If handled carelessly, they are classified as hazardous waste and may cause a fire during transport or disposal.
Are Electric Car Batteries Recyclable?
EV batteries are recyclable, and all their materials may be reused to make new batteries for electric vehicles.
Are Alkaline Batteries Recyclable?
Yes. Alkaline batteries can be recycled. But you cannot put them in your curbside recycle bin. Check with your local recycler or solid waste authority for the right way to recycle alkaline batteries.
Can Single-Use Batteries Be Thrown in the Trash?
Some single-use batteries are deemed non-hazardous and can be thrown in the trash. Check the laws in your municipality and dispose of batteries accordingly.
Can Rechargeable Batteries Be Thrown in the Trash?
Rechargeable batteries should never be thrown in the trash. It is illegal to do so in some places in the US. Besides, it is harmful to the environment.
Compactor Management Company (former Northern California Compactors, Inc.) offers installation and support services for waste recycling equipment such as waste compactors, balers, shredders & conveyor systems. Established in 1981, it offers waste management solutions across the United States.