How to Dispose of a Laptop Battery

Recycling is the right way to discard an old battery

What to Know

  • Use Call2Recycle’s locator tool to find a battery recycling center near you.
  • You can dispose of undamaged laptop batteries at a recycling center for free.
  • Putting old laptop batteries in the trash could cause harm to the environment.

This article outlines how to dispose of or recycle a laptop battery.

How to Dispose of a Laptop Battery

You shouldn’t toss an old laptop battery in the garbage. Recycling a laptop battery can seem a hassle, but it’s vital. A laptop battery can become a fire hazard if stored on a shelf and forgotten, and it becomes an environmental hazard if not disposed of properly.

Fortunately, disposing of a laptop battery is simple once you’ve found a nearby recycling center.

  1. Find a local recycling center. Call2Recycle, a company that provides battery recycling services for several major retailers in the United States, is a good place to start. If this fails, which is likely if you live in a rural area, try the website provided by your community’s waste management service.

  2. Remove the battery from your laptop and place it in a sealable, disposable container, such as a plastic bag.

    Modern laptops often have a slim, custom battery the owner can’t remove. Consult your laptop’s manual, or the manufacturer’s customer service website, if there’s no obvious way to remove it.

  3. Take the battery to the recycling center you found in step one. Avoid damaging the battery, as most recycling centers will reject a bulging or cracked battery. Follow the instructions on-site once you arrive.

What If My Laptop Battery Is Damaged?

A photo of a bulging laptop battery

Andrey Deryabin / Getty Images

An aging laptop battery may show signs of apparent damage. Examples include a bulging or cracked battery pack or burn marks around the battery’s electrical contacts.

A laptop battery's contents will chemically react when exposed to air, generating heat and potentially catching fire. Once a fire starts, it is challenging to put out because the battery itself is flammable. It's why lithium-ion batteries are treated as hazardous materials when shipped or stored in large quantities.

Don’t leave a damaged battery exposed to air in your home. Place it in a sealable container, such as a plastic bag, to reduce air exposure. Most recycling centers won’t accept damaged batteries at the usual drop-off locations, so you will need to call or visit the center for special instructions.

Never ship a damaged lithium-ion battery. The damaged battery poses a severe threat to a person handling it, especially if they are not aware it’s damaged. Shipping companies will typically ask if your shipment contains a damaged battery and refuse shipment if it does.

What If There’s No Recycling Center Nearby?

Most urban and suburban cities will have several retailers that can recycle your laptop battery or, if not that, a waste management service that can recycle electronics, including batteries.

Rural areas are a different story. You may discover that your nearest recycling center is an hour’s drive away or more. That’s inconvenient, but don’t fret yet. You may have another option.

Nearly all laptop manufacturers provide a laptop recycling program. Most manufacturers will recycle a laptop they've made for free and even pay the cost of shipping the computer back to the company. Some also offer free recycling of any computer from any brand if you purchase a new laptop or desktop from the company. The manufacturer’s customer service website will provide instructions.

Here are links to the programs run by the world’s largest laptop manufacturers.

What’s the catch? Unfortunately, this service may apply to the entire laptop and not to the battery alone. It's likely to reject a laptop with a battery the company considers non-serviceable. The manufacturer will likely offer the option to replace the battery while keeping the laptop but will charge a fee for performing that service.

Never ship a damaged laptop battery. Most shipping companies will ask if your package contains a damaged lithium-ion battery and will refuse service or refer you to a specialty service if it does. Shipping a battery that you know is damaged without disclosing it to the shipper can put others at risk of injury or death.

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