How to Properly Dispose of Batteries

Steps to battery disposal and recycling

While you should recycle lithium batteries at Home Depot or somewhere similar, you can toss some alkaline batteries in the trash. Learn how to dispose of old batteries for iPhones, PCs, and other electronics properly.

Discard Single-Use and Non-Rechargeable Batteries

The most common battery type is the single-use and non-rechargeable alkaline battery, which comes in AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, and button cell (watch) sizes. If you have alkaline batteries made after 1997, you may be able to dispose of those batteries with your other garbage as these don't pose a toxic landfill danger under EPA standards. However, battery disposal requirements vary by state. New Jersey and Georgia are examples of states that allow alkaline batteries in the regular trash. In California, everyone must recycle all batteries.

Recycle Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries used in camcorders, smartphones, laptops, and other devices present additional toxicity issues if disposed of in the trash. As a result, rechargeable batteries must be recycled and not discarded with other garbage.

Common types of rechargeable batteries include: 

  • Lithium-Ion (LiOn)
  • Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad) 
  • Nickel metal hydride (NiMH)
  • Nickel zinc (NiZn)

Before recycling, make sure you can no longer recharge the battery. If you wish to recycle a rechargeable battery that still accepts a partial charge, make sure you've run it down before recycling. If you don't need the battery charger anymore, you should also recycle it.

Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries should never be placed in the trash or curbside recycling bins. These batteries could pose a fire danger.

How to Prepare Batteries for Disposal or Recycling

Before discarding your batteries, cover the battery contacts (especially the positive side) with non-conductive masking or electrical tape. Alternatively, put each battery into a small plastic bag so that they don't touch other batteries. Doing this is especially important for units that may be leaking.

Use electrical tape since cellophane (or pressure-sensitive) tape is prone to static electricity and doesn't always stick well. If you have several batteries, tape the contacts, then put the batteries in a non-conductive plastic or cardboard container for safe transport to a local electronics recycling center.

Where to Recycle or Dispose of Batteries

Check online for options in your location for disposing or recycling batteries. Enter keyword phrases into a web browser search engine, such as: "Recycle batteries near me" or "Recycle batteries (your city or county name)."

Earth 911 offers an online search engine for battery disposal and recycling locations.

Select cities or counties may also allow you to put old household non-car batteries into a plastic bag or container and place it separately on top of (or next to) the other weekly garbage or recycling container for pickup. There are national battery disposal and recycling options that may provide local drop-off points as well.

Stores Where You Can Recycle Batteries

Some of the following retailers take batteries to be recycled:

Look for local community e-waste disposal events and check if these events include battery recycling opportunities.

Battery Disposal Recycling by Mail

If you want to ship your old batteries to an outside location, here's a listing of possible choices:

Some of these options are more appropriate for businesses that need to recycle large quantities or specialized batteries. These companies may not accept all battery types.

Extra Considerations For Recycling Batteries

Whenever possible, recycling is the best option since some batteries are dangerous for the environment. If you're going to recycle batteries, keep these points in mind:

Battery Recycle Container
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  • If you're recycling an old laptop, remove the battery. The battery and laptop need to be submitted separately for recycling.
  • If you're recycling a smartphone, you don't have to remove the battery. You can recycle the battery and phone together.
  • If you're keeping the phone, and want to get rid of the battery that's no longer charging, take the phone to an authorized dealer to have the battery removed and replaced with a new one.
  • If you're disposing or recycling a rechargeable battery by shipping rather than in person, check for additional procedures or packaging the facility you're shipping to requires.
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