How and Where to Recycle Batteries

Batteries are part and parcel of our daily lives. To be frank our modern lifestyle is unthinkable without batteries. You will find batteries in any room of your house or office and used in various electronic devices. But most of us have no idea what to do with them after they are exhausted or don’t have any charge left. Experts say that we should recycle batteries after they are used up. You probably don’t know much about battery recycling. A lot of people don’t clearly understand the process. You can’t just throw your batteries in the trash can.  Here, we’re going to tell you where and how to recycle batteries and everything there is to know about the recycling of batteries.

Why recycling Batteries is so important

Used batteries contribute a lot to carbon emission. We usually throw batteries in bins and landfill sites. These batteries contain different harmful and toxic chemicals like cadmium, lithium, lead, and even mercury. These pollutants may be exposed to the environment and cause water and soil pollution, harm ecosystems, and even reach our food chain. Moreover, if you don’t dispose of or recycle batteries in the correct way, there is a chance of overheating, short circuits, and fire.

Benefits of Battery Recycling

Disposing and recycling your batteries can be a hassle that you don’t want to take. Here are the benefits and more reasons why you should take recycling more seriously. 

Batteries have harmful elements

Batteries are made up of elements that are dangerous to human health. These elements can stay in the air from which we breathe, they can also reach the soil and water and cause serious damage to the environment. The heavy metals and acid of the batteries can be fatal for human life. This is why recycling batteries are so important. It can literally save lives.

Obtain non-renewable materials

Different raw elements or materials are processed to produce batteries. These are cobalt, lead, silver, zinc, steel, lithium. By recycling, we can recover these valuable materials and reuse them for various purposes.  We can recycle these indefinitely and they possess a lot of commercial value.

Decreases the cost of Batteries

From the previous point we learned that we can recover different materials from the batteries through recycling. If we use again to use these materials to make batteries, it will reduce the cost to produce batteries. Thus, we can purchase batteries at a lower price.

Decreases the burden of local authorities

Recycling of batteries can play an important part in waste management. It will reduce the workload of the section of the government which deals with waste management and reduce their costs. 

Decreases the possibility of accidents

Cases of explosions and fires due to batteries are very rare. However, things can get very dangerous if any such incident occurs in the waste facilities. So, you should manage batteries very carefully. Some batteries are more prone to spark fire and similar incidents. These batteries must not be damaged in any way or exposed to high heat. Recycling these batteries significantly minimizes the chance of these battery related accidents.

To build a Circular Economy

Though it is a new wording, the concept behind it is actually old. It emphasizes making new products using or recycling old ones. As materials required to make batteries are difficult to come by, we need to focus more on battery recycling.  So that there is no shortage of material to produce batteries for the future.

Convenient to recycle

You can dispose of and recycle batteries easily. All you have to do is send your old batteries to recycling points for batteries or have the local authorities take them for you. But don’t forget to properly store your batteries before disposing of them.

Right Thing to Do

Batteries are manufactured either from raw or recycled goods. For example, we get cobalt from mining or recycling old batteries. But mining cobalt can be very dangerous as it has toxic substances. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, adults and children take part in mining cobalt in horrible conditions. They basically have been turned into slave laborers. We must recycle batteries to ensure the reuse of cobalt so that we can stop slave trade.   

Different types of Batteries

Not all of the batteries we use are the same. The batteries you use on your TV remote is very different from the battery of your car. Primarily batteries can be divided into two types: 1) Non-rechargeable battery 2) Rechargeable battery.

Non-rechargeable battery

These are the most common batteries out there. These batteries can be found anywhere and come in various sizes and power capacity including AA, AAA, 9V, D-cell, etc. You will find these batteries on different small electronics like torchlight, remote, toys etc. Non-rechargeable batteries are made of various components. Here are some examples

Alkaline non-rechargeable battery 

This type of battery was first produced during the ’60s. There were concerns about its high mercury level. After the congress regulated the battery industry, the makers halted the usage of the element.

Lithium non-rechargeable battery 

The batteries that are used in watches are usually made of lithium. These have more power than alkaline batteries because these batteries are better at holding charge. They come in sizes like A, AA, AAA, C, D, and even 9V. You can also find them in cameras and controllers.

Rechargeable batteries

You can find rechargeable batteries in your home.  It’s very common. You’ll see them on your mobile phone, laptops, and other electronic equipment. In many ways, it’s also more efficient than non-rechargeable batteries. 

Recent innovations have rendered rechargeable batteries cheaper and more powerful. These batteries are less wasteful and can be used multiple times. Some can even be recharged up to 1000 times. Although they are pricier than the single use ones. One thing you have to keep in mind is that these batteries can explode or cause fire unless they are correctly disposed of. There is also a risk of combustion because of overheating or any significant damage to the batteries.

Stores and Programs and tools for Battery recycling

Earth911 has a battery recycling tool where you can just type the specific battery you want to recycle along with your zip code and it will show you the locations of recycling bins for batteries in your area.

Call2Recycle is another option for battery recycling. It is a battery collection program that was founded in the USA in 1996. The company has over 25000 sites to drop off in North America. You can search for the drop-off locations on their website. They also have battery recycling bins in different stores.

Here are some stores which have recycling bins for batteries. You can put away your batteries here.

Best Buy Battery Recycling

The Best Buy locations in the USA and Puerto Rico have recycling bins. Call2Recycle provides these bins. They collect rechargeable batteries for recycling however, they don’t take alkaline batteries.

Staples Battery Recycling

Staples collect lithium ions, small sealed lead acid, nickel, cadmium, and nickel metal hydride batteries for recycling. But they don’t take lithium, alkaline, or wet cell batteries.

The Home Depot Battery Recycling

They also have Call2recycle bins in all their stores. This store only takes rechargeable batteries.

Lowe’s Battery Recycling

Lowe’s has over 1700 stores and distribution spots where you can use your old batteries. They also have a partnership with Call2Recycle.

RadioShack Battery Recycling

They have Call2Recycle bins in different RadioShack locations. The best part about them is that they collect all types of batteries including the non-rechargeable, alkaline ones.

Office Depot Battery Recycling 

This is a mail-in recycling program. You have to send the batteries for recycling in a box. Each box cost from $5 to $15 which also includes shipping charges.

Before Recycling

You need to follow some precautions before you collect and store batteries in order to recycle. You can’t afford to be careless while storing old batteries. There’s still a risk of fire spark from these old batteries. So, be careful and store the batteries in a safe and secured place. It’s advisable to take an expert with you while disposing. Some states have mandated specific rules for disposal. You need to follow them.    

Disposal and Recycling of Batteries 

There are different methods for rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries when it comes to recycling. 

How and where to recycle batteries which are for single use 

You can dispose of alkaline batteries in trash carts. It’s completely safe. Big Green Box, Battery Solutions, and Call2Recycle provide mail-in recycling programs through which you can dispose of batteries easily. When it comes to lithium batteries you can’t dispose of them in trash carts. They are also combustible like rechargeable batteries. You can also contact the solid waste district of the locality to know whether there are any programs for battery collection.

How and where to recycle batteries that are rechargeable

You can’t throw rechargeable batteries in the dumpster. These batteries contain harmful elements like heavy metals which are dangerous to the environment. You can send the batteries to office supply or home improvement stores. You can also dispose of them via mail-in recycling programs. Moreover, you can contact the solid waste district or look for other recycling facilities using Earth911’s search. 

Preparations for Recycling

These are the preparations you need to take before sending your batteries for recycling.

Prepping for non-rechargeable batteries

  • Use non-conductive clear tape on the ends to halt current transfer.
  • Keep the batteries in plastic, wooden or nonconductive containers.

Prepping for rechargeable batteries

  • Detach the batteries from electronics like laptops.  
  • Use clear tapes for covering terminals

Be careful while separating the battery from your device. You can accidentally damage them. But if it gets damaged, inform the solid waste district to know what to do with it.

Battery recycling laws

The European Union has enacted the EU Battery Directive which requires shops to have battery collection facilities that sell over 32 kg batteries. Those who import 1 or more tons of batteries have to finance the recycling of batteries. In the state of California, it’s illegal to dispose of non-rechargeable batteries in the trash.  22 other states of America also have specific methods for disposal of old batteries. Though the rest of the states do not have any specific laws regarding battery recycling, we shouldn’t throw them away haphazardly.

Educating the Masses

The general public must be educated in order to conduct proper recycling of batteries. The local councils can play an important role in their education since they look over the recycling programs. The council can teach people the means to recycle batteries and provide the appropriate tools to do so (recycling containers, drop-off locations, etc.). If there is a case when a resident can’t properly recycle his/her batteries, he/she has to be reminded with a mail/call along with the correct recycling procedure. Furthermore, if we can educate and create awareness about battery recycling, they will be more conscious when it comes to disposing of batteries haphazardly. This will have a positive impact on the environment and reduce pollution in landfills.      

Bottom Line

We dispose of an insurmountable number of batteries every year. Though most of these are non-rechargeable batteries, some are also rechargeable. It takes roughly 100 years for batteries to decompose. By this time, the harmful acids and heavy metal can reach our land and soil and seriously damage our environment if not properly recycled.  It also poses a threat to our future generation. It is high time we acted more responsibly and recycle old batteries in a proper way.

Given the impact of Climate change, we should properly recycle not just batteries but also but also other disposable materials to preserve the environment.We hope this article can make you more informed about the importance of battery recycle and how and where to recycle batteries of different sizes and variations. Use and act on this information for the betterment of the future generation and the environment.

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