Why We Must Properly Dispose of Batteries

July 14, 2022 | Published by Julie Buchanan

A truck operated by a CVWMA contractor recently caught fire.

The culprit? Lithium-ion batteries someone threw in their household trash. Fortunately, the driver acted quickly, and no one was hurt.

Most batteries should not be thrown in the trash. Never place a battery in residential or drop-off recycling containers.

Batteries are serious fire hazards in waste and recycling streams. When crushed, they can spark or explode, leading to fires inside truck bodies or in recycling facilities.

Metals in batteries can also contaminate soil and water when the batteries are not properly disposed of.

What to do with batteries
Several CVWMA member jurisdictions accept batteries for recycling at local convenience centers. Use the Recycling Wizard to find options in your community.

Never store batteries with the terminals touching or where they can touch metal. To prevent fires, cover the terminals in masking tape or place each battery in its own separate plastic zip-top bag.

Do not remove batteries that are not intended to be replaceable (e.g., from vaping devices, smartphones or tablets).

How to recycle different batteries

  • Lithium-ion, Nickel-cadmium and Nickel-metal Hydride batteries are rechargeable and commonly found in cellphones, power tools, cameras, toys, laptops and tablets. Look for electronics recycling opportunities where you can dispose of the entire device along with the battery. A regional e-cycling event is held monthly for all area residents (fees apply). Also look for special take-back containers for rechargeable batteries at home improvement or electronics stores. Always follow instructions on the container.
  • Car batteries, also known as lead-acid batteries, can be recycled at most automotive or retail battery stores.
  • Alkaline batteries are safe to throw in the trash (wrap the terminals or place individually in plastic bags). They can also be recycled at Batteries Plus or through Call2Recycle or Big Green Box. Fees apply.
  • Lithium batteries like button cells found in watches or car keys should be recycled at local convenience centers, battery stores or through the mail services listed above. Wrap these batteries in tape or place them individually in plastic zip-top bags.

Remember: Never place batteries in regular residential or drop-off recycling containers!

Here are more resources about batteries and battery recycling:

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