What Do I Do With Used Batteries?

Author
Take Care of Texas
Pile of batteries

Batteries power our lives. From laptops to vehicles, to watches and toys, nearly everything that needs portable power has a battery in it. What should you do with these items, and the batteries inside, when they no longer pack a punch?
Dry-cells, rechargeables, and automotive batteries all must be disposed of in specific ways to keep the environment clean and safe.

  • Most single-use or “dry-cell” batteries can be thrown away safely in the trash, but they create landfill waste. It is best to replace these with rechargeables whenever possible.
  • Rechargeable batteries should never be placed in your trash or curbside recycle bin, but they should always be recycled! 
  • Automotive batteries should be kept out of the trash and returned to a business that sells them or a facility that takes them for recycling.

Watch this short video for an overview on the topic, and read on for more nuanced details on battery disposal.

SINGLE-USE BATTERIES

Single-use batteries are used in small electronics such as remote controls, flashlights, and other household items. These are designated 9-volt, D, C, AA, and AAA batteries. Americans purchase over three billion dry-cell batteries per year!

Dry-cell batteries can be thrown in the trash legally in most states, since the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act passed in 1996, which phased out the use of mercury in alkaline batteries.

To avoid creating more landfill trash with batteries, replace them with rechargeable alternatives whenever you can.

cell phone and rechargeable batteryRECHARGEABLE BATTERIES 

Rechargeable batteries commonly found in laptops, phones, cameras, and cordless power tools should never be thrown in the trash, as they have the potential to harm the environment if not properly disposed. Most rechargeable batteries can be recharged up to 1,000 times, but when they no longer hold a charge — recycle them.

If every Texas household recycled five rechargeable batteries a year, we could keep more than 48 million batteries out of landfills!

Do not put these batteries and battery-equipped products in the trash or your curbside recycling bin, but instead find a designated recycling location, or check with your local Household Hazardous Waste program.

car batteryAUTOMOTIVE BATTERIES (LEAD-ACID) 

Improperly disposing of a lead-acid battery found in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other high-power equipment is illegal in Texas, so always dispose of your old automotive batteries at an approved drop-off site. Texas law requires businesses that sell these batteries to accept your old one when you purchase a new battery, so your local auto parts retailer or shop should accept these batteries for recycling.

RESOURCES FOR RECYCLING 

  • Visit RecycleNation.com for recycling sites for single-use batteries, rechargeable, and automotive batteries. You can also call 1-800-RECYCLING.
  • Visit Call2Recycle.org to locate the closest battery drop-off location.
  •  Ask your local auto parts store or auto service shop if they will accept automotive batteries for recycling.
  • Check local retailers that sell electronics for a battery recycling box, and only deposit the approved type of batteries there.
  • Contact your local Household Hazardous Waste program to find out what kind of batteries they will collect for recycling.
  • Visit EPA’s Used Household Batteries webpage for more information.

 
 

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