Powering Down: What You Need to Know About Recycling Old Batteries

Aug 20, 2021 10:30 AM ET

Americans throw away about three billion batteries per year. It’s important to remember that not all batteries are created equally. Several different types of batteries should not be disposed of or recycled at home.

And, while there are batteries that technically can be thrown away at home, those items are still better off being recycled at a special facility. In fact, Republic Services recommends that you NEVER put batteries in your trash or recycling at home as properly recycling batteries can help prevent harm to the environment.

Did you know that hundreds of preventable fires are caused each year by the unsuitable disposal of battery-powered electronics? In 2019, there were 343 reported fires at waste and recycling facilities in the U.S. and Canada , many of which could have been prevented had consumers recycled their old cell phones, laptops, and other lithium battery-powered electronic devices the right way.

Here’s what you should know about disposing of and properly recycling your old batteries:

  • Alkaline batteries: According to the EPA, you can throw away your alkaline and zinc-based batteries, including the standard batteries you use to power remote controls, flashlights, and more. But it is better for the environment if you find a way to recycle these batteries with an appropriate recycler instead of just tossing them in your trash.
  • Button batteries: These are small round batteries that are frequently found in watches and medical devices. Typically, these batteries contain lithium and can cause fires if damaged. Because of this, they shouldn’t be thrown away or recycled at your home. They require special handling.
  • Lithium batteries and lithium-ion batteries: Lithium batteries, the most popular kind of rechargeable battery found in electronic devices, are hazardous as they can spark a fire if damaged or stored improperly. These batteries MUST be recycled with a battery recycler and should never be disposed of at home.
  • Rechargeable batteries: Rechargeable batteries and devices with rechargeable batteries should always be recycled. If the battery is removable and rechargeable, it can be recycled on its own. If the battery isn’t removable, the entire device needs to be recycled through an electronic waste program.

To protect our planet and help keep you safe, Republic Services has identified several easy solutions that ensure proper battery disposal — including our convenient battery recycling program:

Looking for business resources for recycling batteries ? Learn more about how your business can responsibly recycle batteries .

For more on proper battery recycling, visit RepublicServices.com