How to Recycle Batteries

4 steps to dispose of old power supplies safely

More than 3 billion batteries are sold in the United States each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Although some of the regular alkaline batteries are not considered hazardous, many types have toxic substances that can get into the air or water if tossed into your trash, causing a danger to the environment. Whether you are looking to dispose of alkaline, lithium, lead-acid or nickel-cadmium batteries, recycling strategies and waste prevention should be a consideration. Taking one or more of the following steps in recycling batteries at the end of their life will prevent further pollution.

Step 1: Prevent excessive battery usage

Prevention is always the first and most important step. You can reduce waste by being certain you do not have the needed batteries on hand before buying more, looking for batteries with lower levels of mercury or heavy metals, and thinking about using rechargeable batteries.

Step 2: Contact your local city government for battery recycling center locations

Many communities post pick-up and drop-off instructions in the local paper or at their online site, and some towns and cities will accept batteries at household hazardous waste facilities. It is best to contact your municipality to determine what guidelines may be in place to dispose of batteries properly. Many states have laws in place requiring some form of battery recycling. In California, for instance, recycling of almost all batteries is mandated.

Step 3: Take your used batteries to a local retailer for recycling

If your local household hazardous waste facility does not take batteries, many retailers will. Some of those listed by the EPA include: Batteries Plus, Best Buy, Home Depot and Radio Shack. A complete list can be found at Environmental Health and Safety Online. Retail programs accept most types of batteries including lead-acid batteries, one of the oldest types of rechargeable batteries.

Step 4: Look for online battery-recycling resources

Online resources also exist. While you may find free battery recycling on the web through the EPA, you might also consider mail-order services that cost around 85 cents per pound.

You can find information on facilities that collect rechargeable batteries, such as lead-acid batteries, through the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation. The RBRC has a list of multiple sites for their take-back program.

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