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Government Recycling 101

Understanding today’s regulations and requirements is challenging enough for any organization, but government agencies face additional hurdles. Issues about security clearances, RFP and insurance requirements and long decision times can make it seem impossible to work with a battery recycling company.

The good news is that it is possible for any government agency to recycle their batteries and work with battery recycling companies that specialize in navigating complex processes for becoming an authorized contractor.

This guide explores the basics of battery recycling for government agencies, including why battery recycling is important, how it works, and how your government agency can start recycling batteries today.

Batteries Are Everywhere

Most government agencies don’t feel that they need to worry about battery recycling and disposal because they don’t work with industrial equipment. However, batteries can be found in every modern office, commercial, and industrial setting. Examples include:

  • Laptops
  • Agency-owned vehicles
  • Uninterruptable power supply (UPS) units in server rooms
  • Water meters

If your government agency owns any of these assets, then you will need to dispose of your batteries properly.

What is Battery Recycling?

Battery recycling is the process of separating old, used batteries into metal and plastic components that can then be reused.

The most common recyclable components of a battery are plastic and battery metal, which could be lead, lithium, or nickel (to name a few examples). Because these metals have recyclable value, battery recycling companies are often willing to pay businesses and government agencies for their used batteries.

There are two main purposes of recycling batteries. First, any hazardous and non-recyclable materials can be properly handled so that they don’t contaminate the soil or local water supply. Second, the recycling process extracts heavy metals in the battery, which can then be processed and reused in future batteries.

The Case for Battery Recycling

There are some compelling reasons to recycle batteries. Since recycling companies are willing to pay market prices for used batteries, recycling can provide a government agency with an additional source of revenue. There is also an environmental incentive to recycle batteries. Improperly disposing of batteries or any hazardous materials threatens local environmental health. Over time, pollution from hazardous materials can contaminate community water supplies, affect agricultural productivity, and threaten local fauna and flora.

Of course, the biggest driver for battery recycling is the current regulatory environment. Government agencies are required to properly dispose of batteries as regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state law.

What is the Cost of Complying With Battery Recycling Regulations?

To understand the cost of compliance for battery recycling, it’s important for government agencies to understand the costs and risks of not complying with federal and state battery recycling regulations — including the risks of serious financial and reputational damage to the agency.

In 2017, Vermont fined Walgreens $20,000 for failing to comply with state law concerning battery recycling and disposal. The penalty was a small one, but it sent a message to businesses everywhere that governments are taking battery recycling laws seriously and are not afraid to hold large corporations accountable for noncompliance.

Another high-profile incident occurred in Germany when US automaker Tesla was fined $14 million for battery recycling noncompliance. While battery recycling laws in Europe are different than in the US, regulations around the world are trending toward more environmental protection rather than less. It’s only a matter of time before American courts start imposing such serious penalties.

Battery Recycling as Risk Management

Battery recycling is more than government compliance. It’s a form of effective risk management.

Government agencies who want to adopt a battery recycling program can choose to deliver their batteries to a disposal facility or work with a recycling company that’s willing to pick up batteries on-site. Choosing the latter option significantly reduces the risk for your government agency, as the battery recycling company assumes all responsibility for the batteries from the moment they’re loaded.

In addition, all industries are facing some regulatory risks as battery recycling regulations in the US are evolving. While it’s impossible to predict what laws will look like in ten or even five years, what seems clear is that there will be more regulation around battery recycling. That’s why it’s important to work with a company that can be trusted to stay current on battery recycling regulations and ensure that your batteries are always recycled safely and legally.

The Battery Recycling Process

The process of recycling batteries can be divided into three major steps:

  • Collection
  • Crushing and Sorting
  • Extraction


The first step in the battery recycling process is for the recycling company to move batteries from their disposal points to a recycling facility. Government agencies are usually responsible for bringing their batteries to a disposal facility. However, some recycling companies provide pickup services that save your agency from the cost and stress of transporting batteries.

Recycling companies with pickup services usually offer centralized pickup, meaning that your agency is in charge of sending batteries to a single on-site location chosen at your convenience. This is the most efficient method of battery disposal, but it may not work for agencies with multiple or remote sites.

When centralized pickup isn’t practical, then it’s important to work with a recycling company that can provide on-site pickup at individual locations.

Battery Recyclers of America is a battery recycling company, which means that we’re directly responsible for the safe collection and transport of your batteries from your locations to the recycling facility. We work with trusted partners who take over the rest of the battery recycling process.

Crushing and Sorting

Once the batteries arrive at the recycling facility, they need to be sorted so that the different materials can be properly treated and recycled. Heavy lead-acid batteries are first crushed into fragments in hammer mills before being sorted.

Both plastics and metals can be recovered from old batteries and recycled. Sorted metals are taken to undergo the final part of the recycling process.


The purpose of extraction is to separate the most valuable metals from the rest of the battery as well as from each other. Depending on the battery type, the recycling facility will use smelting, chemical processes, or both to refine the metals contained in the batteries.

The result of the battery recycling process is recyclable plastic as well as lead, lithium, iron, nickel, and magnesium, which can all be reused to produce new batteries.

What Kinds of Government Agencies Do You Serve?

We work with government agencies, municipalities, and utilities around the country. Some of our current clients include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the city of San Diego, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and the state of Alaska.

If you work for a government or government-owned agency, then chances are that we can recycle your batteries.

Can You Take All the Battery Types I Have?

Most likely! We accept a wide variety of battery types and chemistries. Here are just a few examples:

Lead-acid batteries

  • Absolyte
  • Electric vehicle (EV)
  • Telecom
  • UPS
  • Forklift and Industrial

Lithium-ion batteries

  • EVs and hybrid vehicles
  • Cell phones and rechargeable devices
  • Lithium iron phosphate
  • Lithium polymer

Other battery types

  • Alkaline
  • Nickel cadmium (Nicad) batteries
  • Water meter batteries
  • Nickel metal hydride
  • Zinc

Check here for a full list of the battery types we recycle.

We have a government RFP Process. Can You Complete the Necessary Paperwork and Insurance?

Yes, we are happy to respond to RFPs, obtain security clearances, apply to become an authorized third-party vendor, provide extensive levels of insurance, or meet any other requirements that your government agency may have.

Battery Recyclers of America works only with the most trusted contractors in the industry, and each of our vendors is regularly vetted for the right certifications and insurance policies. We understand that your government agency is committed to doing the same, which is why we’re willing to work with you to comply with your expectations for contractors.

We Have Requirements for the Drivers Who Come on Site. Can You Fulfill Those Requirements?

We understand that some government agency locations have special requirements and restrictions for third-party contractors that drive on-site. We can work with you to safely collect your batteries while complying with driver requirements.

Our team already works with government agencies and municipalities around the country, and we’re experienced in coordinating security clearances, safety protocols, parking restrictions, and other on-site requirements. We’ll also schedule a pickup time that works best for you, and we can even help with preparing and palletizing your batteries.

Our goal is to make our clients’ lives as stress-free as possible and to take care of the entire process from start to finish — leaving you to focus on more important tasks.

How Much Will I Get Paid for These Batteries?

The market price for batteries is dynamic and can change even from day to day. In general, battery market prices are affected by:

  • Raw material prices: The type and quantity of metals will have a big influence on the market price of your batteries. Raw material prices are set by regional and global exchanges, such as the London Metal Exchange (LME).
  • Supply and demand: As battery technologies improve, more and more industries are turning to battery applications, increasing demand along with battery prices. At the same time, the major supply chain disruptions from the recent pandemic have made the supply of new batteries less reliable, which has also increased the market price of recycled batteries.
  • Local considerations: Local demand for certain metals, temporary disruptions to nearby transport networks, and other local events can affect the market price of your batteries.

Our quotes for battery recycling are by the pound — higher volumes mean more favorable pricing to recycle your batteries. And you can rest assured that we’ll always offer competitive pricing in the industry for your batteries.

When Will I Get Paid for These Batteries?

After we pick up your batteries, we’ll confirm the final weight before issuing your payment and recycling certificate. We always aim to process your payment as efficiently as possible — we believe that you should get paid for your batteries as quickly as we recycle them.

Do I Have to Pay Anything for Battery Recycling?

In most cases, you won’t have to pay anything to recycle your batters. We’ll be the ones paying you. However, in some cases, we may need to charge if the battery volume is too low.

If you’re not sure whether you have enough volume to get paid to recycle your batteries, get in touch with us today for a quote.

How Do I Know You Are Going to Recycle My Batteries Responsibly?

Of course, every customer we work with is interested in ensuring that we do what we promise to do — to recycle all batteries responsibly. After all, improper battery recycling practices can put your organization’s reputation on the line as much as ours.

When you recycle your batteries with us, you’ll receive an official recycling certificate, which serves as a paper trail for our recycling activities. Each recycling certificate will indicate the following:

  • Date of pickup
  • Battery generator
  • Bill of lading
  • Relevant job and/or purchase order numbers
  • Type(s) of batteries recycled
  • Received weight
  • EPA identification number of the smelting facility
  • Official authorization and signature by Battery Recyclers of America

Your battery recycling certificate also serves as proof that your batteries were received and recycled in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations.

Do You Have Nationwide Capability?

Yes, our battery pickup service is available in all 50 states. We don’t even need a street address — send us the latitude and longitude of your batteries, and we’ll be there.

How Can My Government Agency Get a Quote for Battery Recycling?

The fastest way to get a quote for battery recycling is to fill out our 30-second form. Once we have details such as your location, battery types, and total volume, we’ll let you know how much you’ll get paid for your batteries and schedule a pickup time at your convenience. You can also give us a call at (866) 230 8641.

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