Batteries power a variety of portable devices. Everything from cordless phones and laptops to cars and toys use battery power. Eventually, a battery stops powering a device or fails to charge. That means it’s time to replace it.
Knowing how to dispose of batteries properly helps protect the environment. Whether they're rechargeable AA batteries or single-use alkaline batteries, learn safe disposal. This guide offers tips on battery disposal and battery recycling.
Single-Use vs. Rechargeable Batteries
There are two basic types of batteries in use: rechargeable and single-use or disposable ones.
Rechargeable batteries can be charged many times before they're replaced. They're found in cordless phones, smartphones and digital cameras. Power tools and similar devices that drain energy quickly use them too.
Single-use batteries are found in alarm clocks, remotes and other gadgets. They're designed to be used as long as the cell makes electricity.
Can Batteries Be Thrown Out?
Batteries contain chemicals and metals that produce a reaction to generate electrical energy. While recycling of batteries is encouraged to protect the environment, you can throw out some types. Common household alkaline batteries are considered nonhazardous. You may toss out alkaline batteries with ordinary trash.
Button cell batteries used in items like remote car starters and watches contain silver and mercury. They must be recycled. In California, all household batteries are categorized as hazardous waste. Batteries must be brought to a household hazardous waste disposal facility. Another option is recycling at an authorized recycling facility in the state.
How to Dispose of Alkaline Batteries
Alkaline batteries include AA, AAA, 9 volt and D cells. Small batteries may run remote controls or flashlights. Larger batteries power smoke detectors, clocks and wireless consumer devices. Even when the cells no longer run devices, the batteries can still produce current. They can be hazardous if discarded improperly. Take these precautions before throwing them out:
- Collect used household batteries in a container. A cardboard box or plastic tub is a safe option.
- Prevent any fire risk by taping 9-volt battery terminals before tossing.
How to Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries
The types of rechargeable batteries in use include lithium-ion and nickel-cadmium. Other types are nickel-metal hydride, nickel-zinc and small sealed lead batteries. The toxic metals that generate energy in these batteries can hurt the environment if discarded incorrectly.
Rechargeable 9-volt batteries, AA and AAA batteries and D cells for household use look like alkaline batteries. The difference is they fit compatible plug-in chargers. Rechargeable batteries are recycled. Look for the battery recycling seals on rechargeable batteries.
Tip: Remove batteries from broken cordless phones, smartphones and laptops. They'll be ready whether you give away, throw away or recycle the device.
Where to Recycle Batteries
Recycling companies dispose of the components of rechargeable batteries responsibly and properly. The metals and chemicals don’t end up in streams and landfills. Here are some options for recycling:
- The Home Depot Store has partnered with Call2Recycle, a nonprofit battery recycling program. Rechargeable batteries can be dropped off in Call2Recycle bins at the store. Any rechargeable battery that weighs up to 11 pounds and is under 300 watt hours is accepted. There's no charge for recycling.
- Many local solid waste districts host collection events for residents to drop off batteries.
- Some battery manufacturers and recycling facilities have mail-in programs. Before mailing batteries, be sure to follow postal shipping precautions.
- Most auto care retailers accept car batteries for recycling.
Common types of recyclable batteries:
- Lithium-Ion (L-Ion) battery: These batteries are often used in personal electronics such as smartphones. They also run laptop computers, tablets and cordless power tools.
- Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) Batteries: These rechargeable cells are used in power tools and communication devices. They're for devices that require high current draw but aren't in constant use.
- Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery: These rechargable batteries come in AA, AAA, 9 volt and D cells. They're used in digital cameras and other devices that drain power quickly.
- Small Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) Battery: These rechargeable batteries are often used in large items like motor vehicles and lawn mowers. They're also power medical devices and telecommunications.
Practice the proper disposal of used batteries. Knowing how to correctly discard household and rechargeable batteries helps the environment. Download the Home Depot Mobile App to shop for all your battery needs.