Proper Disposal of Household Batteries

The Franklin County Solid Waste Management District runs free battery recycling and disposal programs. Most batteries should not be put in the trash. Free recycling and disposal is available at all Franklin County Solid Waste District transfer stations and, for those towns that don’t have a transfer station, at town hall. Give batteries to the transfer station attendant or place them in the special battery recycling boxes at town hall. There are many different types of batteries and some contain mercury and other heavy metals. Batteries can release mercury, cadmium or other heavy metals into the air and water, ultimately entering the food chain and posing health threats to people and the environment. Please read below for disposal instructions for specific battery types.

Rechargeable batteries are found in those electronics and appliances that can be recharged, such as cell phones; cordless phones; laptop computers; tablets/ipads; power tools; some toys; digital cameras; and rechargeable toothbrushes, razors, flashlights, and handheld vacuum cleaners. In addition, rechargeable batteries that can be recharged with a battery recharger should also be recycled. Cell phones should also be recycled in this manner. Rechargeable batteries and cell phones contain heavy metals and should never be thrown away; they should always be recycled. District transfer stations have special programs for rechargeable batteries and cell phones; hand to attendant. The specific batteries accepted in these boxes are: Nickel-cadmium (Ni-cad), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Nickel Zinc (Ni-Zn), Lithium Ion batteries (Li-ion), and Small Sealed Lead (Pb). These abbreviations are printed on rechargeable batteries. The boxes for free rechargeable battery recycling are also available at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Alkaline batteries are the most common household batteries. They are available in many sizes and shapes such as AAA, AA, C, D and 9 volt. Alkaline batteries manufactured since 1996 do not contain mercury or other hazardous materials. District residents should put alkaline batteries into their trash since it goes to the landfill. All batteries should be checked carefully before disposal, as some non-alkaline batteries resemble alkalines.

If you would like to cut down on the number of alkaline batteries you are using, you could purchase an inexpensive battery charger and some compatible rechargeable batteries. These batteries can be used and recharged over and over again, but remember to recycle them in a battery box when they cannot be charged anymore.

Carbon Zinc and Zinc Chloride batteries may be disposed of in the same manner as alkaline batteries; see above.

Lithium batteries are used many applications but most often in cameras. The word “lithium” is printed on the battery. Be sure to check all batteries; some lithium batteries, such as the AA size or short and fat lithium batteries used in cameras, resemble alkaline batteries, but should be recycled properly; hand to transfer station attendant. See below.

Lithium-ion batteries are different from single use Lithium batteries, and must be recycled with rechargeable batteries. See info under "Rechargeable batteries" above.

Button batteries are the small round silver batteries found in watches, clocks, calculators, hearing aids, toys, remote car locks, flameless “flicker candles,” electric fence dog collars, singing greeting cards and singing balloons. Many button batteries contain mercury; therefore, button batteries must be disposed of properly. Give button and lithium batteries to your town’s transfer station attendant or, if your town doesn’t have a transfer station, place in the collection can at town hall.

Lead Acid batteries from cars, trucks, golf carts, motorcycles, etc. must be recycled by law and recycling programs, some for cash or credit back, are available at auto supply stores, local scrap metal recyclers, and at some transfer stations.