Rechargeable batteries are great for conservation and convenience, but must be recycled properly when they are drained. If batteries end up in landfills used for typical household wastes, they can contaminate the soil and groundwater. Automotive, rechargeable, and cell phone batteries are all examples of batteries that should be properly disposed of at special collection centers and not in your trash can.
Monday – Your Right to Know
In the workplace, batteries are disposed of as ‘Universal Waste’, a type of regulated waste that does not go to the local landfills. Regulated waste must be recycled or disposed of properly to avoid contamination and any negative outcomes that can come from improper disposal. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has published a guide to the safe disposal of household hazardous wastes including a helpful section on used batteries. Please download here.
Tuesday – Car Batteries
Automotive batteries contain lead and sulfuric acid which poses physical and environmental risks. Improper disposal of these batteries is illegal in a number of states. Always take these types of batteries to a hazardous waste facility to ensure proper disposal. Retailers of car and truck batteries in New York are required to accept two used car/truck batteries per person per month at no charge. For more information about recycling lead-based batteries, visit the International Battery Council.
Local retailers may accept automotive batteries at a nominal fee:
- Advanced Auto Parts
- Batteries Plus Bulbs
- Firestone Complete Auto Care
- Interstate Battery Centers
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
Wednesday – State Specific Regulations
The New York Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act of 2010 requires all rechargeable batteries to be recycled. Rechargeable batteries included in this legislation include: nickel-cadmium, sealed lead, lithium oil, nickel metal hydride and any other type of rechargeable batteries. Don’t forget about electric vehicle rechargeable batteries, either. To learn more about household battery recycling, find your state’s laws and battery recycling centers throughout the U.S., go to Call2Recycle. The following local retailers accept rechargeable batteries (and used cell phones) for no charge: Lowes, Wegmans, Best Buy, Staples, Sears and Home Depot. The full list of Electronic Waste Collection Sites sorted by county in New York can be found here (PDF).
Thursday – Typical Household Batteries
Alkaline batteries that were manufactured after 1996 as they do not contain mercury; however, if you find that you have a large number of alkaline batteries to dispose of, call your waste carrier in advance for instructions.
For other types of electronic waste disposal, some retailers will accept these items with a handing fee:
- Fax Machines
Other retailers will accept the following electronics wastes at no charge:
- Network Equipment
- Computer Accessories
- Circuit Boards
- Cabling and Wires
- A/V equipment
- Toner and Inkjet Cartridges
Be sure to check your local retailers before disposing of any of these items yourself. Also, consider recycling and donating these items to Goodwill Industries as these items can be refurbished and resold in their retail stores.
Finally, some basic safety tips for batteries include:
- Remove batteries from unused devices to avoid battery leaks.
- Don’t dispose of batteries in a fire to avoid leaks, ruptures, or explosions.
- Don’t store or dispose of 9-volt batteries without blocking the positive and negative posts with electrical tape to prevent fire.
NOTE: 9-volt batteries must be disposed of as hazardous waste
Friday – The Hunt for the Unlabeled Containers
As we know, at work our chemical containers must be labeled – we have to know what we are working with in order to work safely! Labels must have the chemical name, the chemical supplier, and appropriate hazard warning. Take time today to canvas your work area for unlabeled chemical containers. Don’t forget to look for containers used to transfer chemicals, such as in-process containers, as these must also be labeled. If you find unlabeled containers please turn them in to your supervisor or EH&S team member immediately.
Go a step beyond and do the same thing for the household chemicals stored in your garage, utility room, or cleaning closet. If you have small children, make sure the household chemicals and batteries are secured and out of reach of children.
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