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How to Dispose of Batteries

Single-Use vs. Rechargeable Batteries
Someone removing batteries from a remote device.

Once a battery stops powering or holding a charge, it’s time to replace it. Batteries come in two basic types: rechargeable and single-use or disposable ones. Car batteries, rechargeable 9-volt batteries and even tiny cell watch batteries can all have toxic chemicals and heavy metals. It’s important to know where and how to dispose of lithium batteries and others properly. 

Tip: “Dead” batteries are not completely dead and must be stored and thrown away correctly to prevent fires.

How to Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries
Someone removing battery from cell phone.

Rechargeable batteries can be charged hundreds of times before they have to be replaced. Laptops, tablets, digital cameras, cell phones and cordless power tools all use rechargeable batteries. These batteries are usually lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, nickel-zinc or small sealed lead batteries. Rechargeable batteries should be recycled. Look for the battery recycling seals on rechargeable batteries. 

Tip: Remove batteries from broken cell phones and laptops before you give, throw away or recycle the device.

How to Dispose of Alkaline Batteries
Someone tossing used batteries into a trashbag.

Alkaline batteries are the common household types found in remotes, clocks, flashlights, smoke detectors and other wireless devices. They are usually non-hazardous and can simply be tossed into a regular trash can, except in California. However, since they still have power in them it’s best to follow a few precautions before you throw them out:

  • Collect used batteries in a container that won’t cause a spark such as a cardboard box or plastic tub.
  • Prevent any fire risk by taping 9-volt terminals before tossing.  

Tip: When you buy your new batteries, remember to recycle the packaging.

Where to Recycle Batteries
Batteries filling a recycling bin.

Rechargeable batteries must be recycled but you should try and recycle all batteries. Some batteries like NiCad ones have toxic metals such as cadmium and lead. Recycling makes sure the components of all batteries are handled properly and don’t end up in streams and landfills. Here are some options for recycling:

  • Your neighborhood The Home Depot Store has partnered with Call2Recycle, a non-profit battery recycling program. You can recycle rechargeable batteries free by placing them in Call2Recycle bins at the store. Any rechargeable battery, including lithium batteries or a cellphone battery that weighs up to 11 pounds and is under 300 watt hours, is accepted.
  • Call your local solid waste district to find out if your community has a collection program or upcoming event.
  • Some battery manufacturers and recycling facilities have mail-in programs. Before mailing your batteries, be sure to follow postal shipping precautions.
  • Check with your local auto dealer or battery retail location about recycling lead acid or car batteries.

Knowing how to properly dispose of used batteries is good for the environment. Shop online at The Home Depot for all your battery needs. The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.