Battery Recycling: 10 do’s and don’ts (everyone should know)

Today, more businesses are recycling than ever. So you’d assume that we’re all better at figuring out what goes in the bin, right?

Well, not exactly. There’s still a lot of confusion around what can and can’t be recycled — especially when it comes to batteries and e-waste.

Which kind of batteries can be recycled, and which can’t? What should you do with old cell phones and laptops? And can damaged batteries be recycled?

To clear up the confusion, we’ve created this quick guide on the dos and don’ts of battery recycling.

DON’T throw spent batteries in the trash. 

Batteries contain toxic and harmful materials that do not belong in landfills. Not only that, but it’s a terrible waste of resources. Many of the materials inside batteries can be reused to make new batteries and other products. You might even be eligible to receive cash back for your spent batteries when you recycle!

DO work with a responsible recycler. 

Unfortunately, not all recyclers dispose of battery waste safely and correctly. In recent years, some recyclers have started sending battery waste overseas to crude smelting facilities that don’t meet American environmental standards. Always check to make sure your recycler uses EPA-approved facilities.

DON’T put batteries in the recycling bin. 

It’s not that batteries can’t be recycled — it’s just that they require a different handling and disposal process. If you only have a few batteries, you can drop them off at a local collection location. Otherwise, if you have bulk or commercial batteries, your best bet is to work with a pickup service like Battery Recyclers of America.

DO know your battery types.

Each type of battery requires a different recycling process. It’s important to know which type of batteries you have to ensure they’re recycled safely and correctly. Visit our battery types page to see if any of the photos match the batteries you have. Or, send us the model number or manufacturer and we can help you identify what you have.

DON’T toss old cell phones and laptops. 

These devices usually contain lithium-ion batteries, which can cause fires if not disposed of properly. First, make sure to wipe any sensitive data from the device. Then, if the battery is removable, take it out. Finally, use the Recycling Locator to find a drop-off location near you.

DO educate yourself about applicable regulations. 

Different states have different recycling regulations. California, for example, requires you to recycle all your batteries. In other states, you can safely dispose of single-use household batteries. Before you recycle, learn which regulations apply to you.

DON’T mix damaged batteries in with your other recycling.  

Batteries that are bulging, corroded, leaking, or showing burn marks pose serious safety risks if handled improperly. A battery that’s already compromised can break apart, release toxic or corrosive materials, or cause a fire during transportation. The appropriate disposal process will depend on the type of batteries you have and the damage, so it’s best to consult a recycling expert.

DO ask for a recycling certificate.

A recycling certificate proves you are in compliance with United States EPA regulations and demonstrates your dedication to protecting our environment. Never work with a recycler who won’t provide you with proper documentation. Remember — no recycling certificate, no deal.

DON’T store batteries in equipment.

If you don’t plan on using the batteries for a while, or if they don’t work anymore, remove them from the equipment. Store them in the original packaging or in a non-conductive storage container like a cardboard box until they can be recycled.

DO store batteries in a cool, dry location. 

High temperatures and moisture can shorten battery life and cause batteries to corrode, leak, or rupture.

Your next steps

Now that you know the dos and don’ts of battery recycling, you’ll be ready when your batteries reach the end of their useful life. Feel free to pass these tips along to your employees, contractors, cleaning staff, and anyone else who might need them.

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