What to do with all those old batteries?

Today’s post comes from Barbara Lopez, ILACSD’s Hotline Assistant!

You probably have a stash of them somewhere in your garage or in the bottom of your junk drawer. Many of us hold onto our spent single-use batteries and wonder what to do with them. You shouldn’t just throw them in the trash because they contain toxic materials that can leach out and contaminate our environment. In fact, California classifies batteries as “universal waste” and requires residents and businesses to dispose of batteries by taking them to a battery recycler or a universal waste handler.

So what disposal options do San Diegans have? One option is to take your batteries to your local household hazardous waste collection facility. Instead of making a special trip to the HHW collection facility for only a few batteries, hold onto your spent batteries until you have other HHW items, like paint and cleaners, that you no longer need. Also, residents in unincorporated areas of San Diego can drop off batteries at collection bins that have been set up at some County libraries.

To improve the way spent batteries are collected and recycled,  five major battery manufacturers are teaming up to develop a nationwide household battery recycling program. Together they have started the non-profit Corporation for Battery Recycling (CBR) and hope to create a battery recycling program that is both environmentally friendly and cost effective. Currently, CBR is looking for a nationwide organization to develop and manage a single-use battery recycling program and plans on having it implemented by 2013.

As an alternative to using single-use batteries, many battery-powered devices can use rechargeable batteries. Although rechargeable batteries are usually more expensive, they actually save you money in the long run since they can be recharged several times over their lifespan. Rechargeable batteries also require proper disposal but their disposal is much easier. Thanks to the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act of 2006 all retailers who sell small, non-vehicular rechargeable batteries are required to provide a free system of returning spent batteries for recycling. Many retailers participate in Call2Recycle, a free rechargeable battery collection program in North America. Call2Recycle has collected 70 million pounds of rechargeable batteries to date and boasts 30000 collection sites, guaranteeing there’s one near you.

Need help finding a collection site near you? Visit our one stop recycling resource, WasteFreeSD.org.

3 responses to “What to do with all those old batteries?

    1. Hi Eric! Absolutely, batteries can cause a lot of harm to the environment and are a large component of ewaste; their proper disposal is important. We have a website, http://www.wastefreesd.org, that people can check out for how to dispose of batteries as well as any other hazardous household waste. Thanks for bringing this up!

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