How to Safely Dispose of Damaged Lithium Ion Batteries

Chad SepulvedaRecycling Batteries

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are or how meticulously you store your spent batteries, they still end up getting damaged.

It may be because a battery gets dropped when removing it from a forklift, or it could be because it gets bumped while stacked on a pallet in your warehouse. Or, you might have received a defective battery from the manufacturer.

In any case, damaged or defective batteries can make recycling and disposal tricky. If you have damaged batteries, it’s important to know how to dispose of them safely to protect your organization from potential risks and liabilities.

Safety risks of damaged batteries

Damaged batteries pose serious safety risks if handled improperly or thrown in the trash. A battery that’s already compromised can break apart, release toxic or corrosive materials, or react dangerously. If a damaged battery ends up bouncing around in the back of a freight truck, it can spark and ignite. Surrounded by paper and cardboard, the flames can quickly spread to the rest of the vehicle with disastrous consequences.

It’s important that both you and your employees know what to look for, since damaged batteries will need to be stored and handled carefully.  

How to identify damaged batteries

Damaged batteries typically show signs like bloating, swelling, cracks, leaking, corrosion, or burn marks.

Lithium batteries — which are found in electronic devices like cell phones, laptops, and power tools — are the most susceptible to damage. However, any type of battery can get damaged through normal use, exposure to the elements, or during removal and storage.

How to store damaged batteries

As soon as you notice a battery is damaged, place it in a non-flammable material such as Cell Block. Be sure to follow any internal hazardous waste guidelines. Do not throw the battery in the trash or your normal recycling stream. If you do, you run the risk of a fire.

How to package and ship damaged lithium ion batteries

Damaged and defective batteries have been responsible for numerous transportation incidents. As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has laid out special regulations around how these batteries must be packaged and transported.

According to DOT rules, damaged, defective, or recalled lithium-ion batteries may not be shipped by air. When transported over the road, damaged batteries require a special handling and shipping process to prevent incidents. It’s important to be aware of these regulations to avoid potential liabilities.

The appropriate packaging and shipment process will depend on the type of batteries you have and the damage. Leaking, burned, or melted batteries each require different considerations. This is something a recycling professional can advise you on quite easily, but we don’t recommend doing it yourself.

Let our recycling experts safely dispose of your damaged batteries

Damaged or defective batteries are more than a nuisance — they can pose a significant risk to people, property, and the environment. The best thing to do is to call a battery recycling expert as soon as you notice a leak, burn mark, or other issue.

Battery Recyclers of America offers safe, compliant pickup and recycling services for all your batteries, even if they are damaged or defective. Our recycling experts will assess your situation and provide you with specific packaging instructions to ensure you adhere to all applicable regulations.

Email our team or give us a call at (800-508-6670) to speak with one of our battery recycling experts today for more information!