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How to Properly Dispose or Recycle Lithium Batteries

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, billions of batteries find their way into landfills every year.

These batteries contain toxic substances which can then leech into the earth and water supplies. Fortunately, this negative impact on the environment can be avoided by battery recycling.

Did you know that you can recycle lithium batteries? You can, and it's easier than you might think. Keep reading to learn more about the only safe way to get rid of old batteries.

Before we go any further, let's take a quick look at why it's important to recycle batteries. When you understand why you're doing something, you're more likely to continue doing it.

Here are some of the reasons why you should be recycling old batteries:

  • Conserves natural resources
  • Reduces the amount of waste in landfills
  • Prevents pollution created by the collection of raw materials
  • Creates new jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries
  • Saves energy
  • Avoids polluting the environment and groundwater supplies

Many of these benefits come from the fact that metals such as aluminum, nickel, and copper can all be harvested from old batteries. These can then be used in other ways and new metals don't have to be taken from the earth.

What to Do Before Taking in Batteries

Before you take your batteries somewhere to recycle them, there are a few things you'll want to do.

First and foremost, you need to keep your batteries out of your regular trash and recycling bin. Lithium batteries can cause sparks, even if they're completely dead. This is why you want to avoid putting them with other recyclables.

To prevent them from sparking, cover the terminals or ends with electrical tape. It's a good idea to get into the habit of doing this as soon as a battery is removed so it won't cause any problems.

The other thing you want to do before you pack up your old batteries to recycle is to call ahead. You want to make sure the place you're taking them accepts the type of battery you have so you don't waste a trip out there.

You also need to ask about fees. Some places will charge a fee to recycle batteries for you whereas other places do it for free. Asking in advance will help you avoid an unpleasant surprise.

Where to Recycle Batteries

Recycling lithium batteries is as easy as finding a place that will take them. Here are a few resources you can use to recycle lithium batteries:

Recycling Center

One of the best places to take your batteries to where there's a good chance they'll take them is a local recycling center. Not every recycling center takes every type of battery, so this is one you'll definitely want to call before going.

A quick search online should allow you to find several recycling centers near you so you can find one that will take your old batteries.

Household Hazardous Waste Center

If you're unfortunate enough to not have a recycling center near you that will take your lithium batteries, you should be able to find a household hazardous waste center.

This will require another online query which should lead you to the right place that will definitely take your old batteries.

Scrap Yards

To make your trip worth it, you may consider taking your old batteries to a scrap yard. Many of these locations will purchase them from you because they can remove the metals from them and make a profit.

This is particularly great for hobbyists who have several large batteries lying around that are in need of recycling.

Scrap yards don't often take alkaline batteries, so if you also have some smaller batteries saved up from various electronics, you'll have to visit a couple of places to get rid of all of your batteries at once.

Local Library or Community Center

Sometimes, a city or local community will have a battery drive or else a specific location where you can drop off batteries to be recycled for you. Ask at your local library or community center for more information about this.

In most cases, they primarily take smaller household batteries and other used electronics rather than larger batteries. For this reason, you'll want to double-check that your larger vehicle batteries will be accepted.

Because of how close these places generally are to you compared to recycling centers, this can be the most convenient option.

Electronic and Hardware Stores

Here are some stores that may accept batteries for recycling:

As you can imagine, hardware stores are more likely to accept larger batteries since they sell them for tools and smaller vehicles.

Electronic stores may only accept smaller batteries used in cell phones and other electronics, so you'll definitely want to ask before taking them there.

It's also important to keep in mind that not every store location offers this service. Call ahead and ask about the specific types of batteries you're looking to recycle before showing up with them.

Learn More About Why You Should Recycle Lithium Batteries

Now you know more about how to recycle lithium batteries so you can reduce your negative impact on the environment. As you can see, it's as simple as making a few phone calls and dropping them off.

To learn more about recycling batteries, check out our post on National Recycling Day. It's packed with even more information that will help you understand why it's essential to recycle batteries and what types can be recycled.