Batteries play a large role in modern life. They power everything from remote controls to your child’s favorite toy. But when they die, it’s important to dispose of batteries in a way that won’t harm the environment or the trash collection crew.
There are two types of batteries: single-use and rechargeable. How to dispose of batteries will depend on the type – some can go in the garbage while you must recycle others.
How to Dispose of Single-Use Batteries
Single-use batteries include the ones you’ll find in most household items, such as remotes, smoke alarms, and kids’ toys.
Alkaline and Zinc-Carbon (Most Common Household Battery)
Single-use alkaline and zinc-carbon batteries are among the most popular household type. Common sizes include AA, AAA, C, and D. Some button cell batteries are also alkaline or zinc-carbon.
You can safely through these batteries in your regular garbage. If you prefer to recycle, check your local recycling center website or drop off your alkaline and zinc-carbon batteries at the nearest Batteries Plus location.
Button Cell and Coin Batteries
Button cell and coin batteries power key fobs, watches, calculators, and more. While older versions contained heavy metals like mercury, silver, and cadmium, most of today’s button-cell batteries include lithium metal.
You can drop off button cell and coin batteries at Call2Recycle collections bins at the HomeDepot or a Batteries Plus location. If you have bulk batteries to recycle, consider a mail-in program.
Lithium Single-Use Batteries
Lithium single-use batteries look similar to your standard alkaline battery. They’re prevalent in smoke detectors and tv remotes. It’s essential to look for the label “lithium,” as these batteries can hold a charge even after they seem dead.
Lithium batteries are combustible, making them dangerous for trash crews. You should not put them in your regular garbage. You can find lithium battery drop off at Call2Recycle bins at Home Depot or Batteries Plus. You can also contact your local hazardous waste recycling center for options or send in your lithium batteries via a mail-in program.
How to Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries
You can find rechargeable batteries in laptops, cellphones, kids’ toys, and more. You shouldn’t place rechargeable batteries in the garbage as they contain toxic material. Instead, drop these off at a specialized recycling program.
Types of rechargeable batteries:
- Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) – These batteries sometimes look like regular alkaline batteries and power cordless phones, power tools, and video cameras.
- Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) – More common in old model cell phones, these batteries also power laptops, vapes, digital cameras, and tablets. They are combustible and a fire hazard if crushed.
- Nickel Zinc (Ni-Zn) – You can find these in digital cameras, electric vehicles, power towels, and wireless keyboards.
- Small Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (Pb) – Common in backup power sources, scooters, hospital applications, and toy cars.
Don’t throw rechargeable batteries away. Instead, drop them off at a Call2Recycle location or Batteries Plus.
If you have a rechargeable battery that isn’t removable, such as in a laptop or smartphone, recycle the item as e-waste. Most cities hold e-waste collection days several times per year. Also, check with your local recycling center – they may have an e-waste collection area.