Handyman’s Place is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Safely Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries

battery-disposal-pixabay2Standard household batteries like the AA, AAA, and 9-volt have come in rechargeable varieties for many years. With the increase of smartphones and cordless power tools, we are becoming surrounded by them. Unfortunately, rechargeable batteries don’t last forever. When it comes time to dispose of them, it’s not always easy to find good advice for a safe and environmentally friendly way.

We’ve searched the internet and checked with the local authorities to help you answer this question once and for all so you can rest easy knowing you did the right thing.divider 4

Are rechargeable batteries harmful to the environment?

Yes, although all major battery companies are making advancements that lessen their environmental impact, you shouldn’t throw out most batteries, and many states have laws against it. Batteries contain plastic and heavy metals, like lead, cadmium, and mercury that will leak into the environment. In many cases, these metals are worse for the environment than those found in single-use batteries and can contaminate the soil and leak into water supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers rechargeable batteries as hazardous waste.

battery-pixabay
Credit: Didgeman, Pixabay

Are rechargeable batteries good for the environment?

Rechargeable batteries are better for the environment than single-use batteries. Because you recharge them, you use fewer, and companies don’t need to make as many, and fewer wind up in the landfill. If everyone were to switch to using rechargeable batteries exclusively, it would result in significantly less harmful metals contaminating the soil. However, you will need to recharge the battery at least 50 times to make it better for the environment than a single-use battery.divider 9

How long does a rechargeable battery last?

If used properly, a rechargeable battery should last about 1000 charges or two to seven years, and that number is increasing with modern advancements in battery technology. However, they discharge themselves much faster than a single-use battery, and if you store a fully charged one o a shelf, it will be dead in a few months and need a recharge, so they are not a good “Armageddon” solution.

connection-rechargeable-battery-pixabay
Credit: Myriams-Fotos, Pixabay

How do I dispose of a dead rechargeable battery?

Eventually, your battery will stop holding a charge, and you will need to dispose of it. As we’ve mentioned, many states have laws against throwing them in the trash, so you’ll need to dispose of them another way.

Battery Disposal Method 1 – Lowe’s and Home Depot

charger-batteries-pixabay
Credit: analogicus, Pixabay

Arguably the easiest way to recycle your rechargeable battery is to take it to Lowes or Home Depot, where they have a recycling program in place. Almost everyone has one of these stores near them, and the recycling is free. You only need to drop your recyclable battery in one of the bins marked Call2Recycle.


Battery Disposal Method 2 – Call2Recycle

rechargeable-battery-pixabay
Credit: HVesna, Pixabay

Besides those at Lowes and Home Depot, Call2Recycle has more than 25,000 drop boxes available where you can safely place your dead batteries. Call2Recycle claims 85% of Americans are within 10 miles of a designated drop box.


Battery Disposal Method 3 – Call your local solid waste management company

battery-duracell-pixabay
Credit: Alexei_other, Pixabay

Many waste management companies have a battery recycling program in place. It might be an ongoing thing or an event that happens once a year, so you will need to call to get your city’s schedule.


Battery Disposal Method 4 – Mail to the battery manufacturer

charger-pixabay
Credit: moscito1, Pixabay

Some battery companies allow you to mail your dead batteries back to them for recycling. Mailing is our least favorite method because it requires you to cover the cost of shipping. You will also need to worry about any laws governing shipping batteries through the mail.divider 7

Tips to Extend Battery Life

Here are a few tips that you can use to extend your rechargeable battery's lifespan so you can worry about recycling them less often:
  • Always allow the charge to deplete completely before recharging. Recharging nearly full batteries will shorten their life.
  • Never allow a full battery to continue charging. Doing so will kill your battery faster.
  • Don’t allow the battery to remain discharged for a long time. Make sure the battery gets a full charge at least once every six months.
  • Keep and charge your batteries at room temperature for maximum life. Both hot and cold temperatures can kill the battery faster.
  • Turn down your smartphone screen brightness to extend the battery charge.
  • Have the sleep mode kick in after one minute to save battery life.
  • Use a static screen instead of a live wallpaper on your smartphone to preserve battery life.
  • Turn off your apps when you are not using them to extend battery life.
  • Use battery-operated power tools with smart technology to shut off power if it gets too hot and to control torque.
  • Excessive moisture can shorten the battery’s lifespan.
  • Mishandling or dropping the battery will shorten its lifespan.
divider 1

Summary

You can take many steps to extend the life of your battery, but it will eventually need replacing, and you will need to recycle it. We recommend taking it to the local Lowes or Home Depot because most of us know where one is and can find a way to bring them there without further research. They accept them all year, so you don’t need to do any preplanning. Another great choice is to take your battery to one of the Call2Recycle boxes that they have set up across the country. This system is almost as easy, and you might even find one closer than your local Lowes or Home Depot.

We hope we have helped answer your questions and provided you with a way to recycle your batteries. If you think it can help others, please share this guide to disposing of your rechargeable batteries on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured image credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Related posts

Other categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools

woodworking

Garden

Automotive