Battery Disposal and Recycling

If you are confused about the proper disposal of household batteries chances are you are not alone. For years, common household batteries were considered household hazardous waste needing special collection and handling to insure protection from the potential of adverse health and environmental affects due to the batteries harmful chemical makeup. However, in May of 1996, the Federal Battery Bill, also known as the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act, was signed into law.

This Act changed the fate of batteries. Before 1996, batteries contained mercury, which has the potential to threaten human health and the environment when landfilled or incinerated. These metals contaminate air, water and land not to mention have the tendency to bioaccumulate in the tissues of fish and other lower food chain species that often find themselves consumed by people and other larger animals. The health threats associated with mercury and other heavy metals could actually be fatal to humans and at the very least cause major health complications. The Battery Bill works to phase out the use of mercury and other harmful heavy metals in the manufacturing of alkaline batteries making alkaline batteries produced after 1996 safe to dispose of in your household trash.

However, not all batteries are safe for the trash! Rechargeable batteries, although safe while in use, still pose a toxic health threat if disposed of improperly. Always recycle your rechargeable batteries; please keep reading to find out where.

Batteries Safe to Toss:

Regular Alkaline Batteries: AAA, AA, C, D, 9-Volt manufactured after 1996.

Batteries to Recycle:

The most common types of rechargeable/recyclable batteries include:

    * Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) generally used in power tools, cell phones, laptops, flashlights, cameras, data terminals, FAX and POS memory, hobby remote controls, notebook PCs, transceivers, portable printers, portable TVs, CD and tape players, vacuum cleaners, shavers, security lights, and toys.

    * Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MD) generally used in car telephones, cameras, cell phones, notebook PC's, personal digital assistants, portable VCRs, TVs, portable stereos, CD players, cordless vacuum cleaners, and applications where high-energy and small size are critical.

    * Lithium (Li-ion) generally used in computer memory and real time clock backup, electronic counters, process controllers, portable instruments, time/data protection, industrial controls, electronic gas, water and electric meters, communication equipment, watches, protection of control parameter memory, portable electronic devices.

    * Small sealed lead acid (Pb) generally used in communication equipment, office equipment, security systems, power tools, toys, UPS systems.

Most retailers that sell rechargeable and other special batteries will take the old ones back for free recycling and safe disposal. Most of the retailers work with a not-for-profit organization called Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) who reclaims the metals within the old batteries to make new products such as new batteries or other stainless steel products.

For more information about RBRC please visit their website at:

By using rechargeable batteries you will be helping to create a cleaner and safer environment and in the meantime, save money on battery cost while also reducing the solid waste stream in our community.

The following hints and tips will help preserve the life of your batteries and help to ensure their proper use and storage:


    * Do read and follow the charging instructions provided with the product. Each charger utilizes a specific strategy to charge the battery.

    * Do let a discharged battery cool to room temperature before recharging. A warm battery may signal the thermal cut-off switch to stop the charging process prematurely, and the battery may not get a full charge.

    * Do recharge batteries when they are near to fully discharged. A discharged battery can be detected by a sharp drop in speed or power, or by a reduction in the number of power indicators.


    * Don't return fully charged battery to the charger for an "extra boost." This will overcharge the cells and significantly shorten their life-span.

    * Don't leave your cellular or cordless phone in the charger when not charging unless indicated by manufacturer's instructions. For example don't use the charger as a stand. Continuous charging will shorten battery life.

Hazardous Household Batteries that Need Special Collection:

    * Silver oxide generally used in digital watches, calculators, portable medical devices, hearing aids (often replac