How to Recycle Your Old Batteries
Did you know that right now in the US there are no laws or regulations around what to do with your old batteries? That’s right, as far as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is concerned, it is up to the local states to decide what to do with old phones and batteries once you are done with them.
The result? It is “okay” for you to just throw your old phone batteries, or any battery really, straight into the trash. This habit of just tossing your old iPhone 6 at the end of its use fails to consider the consequences for the environment, the ocean, and the growing climate change crisis.
Maybe you are already into sustainable practices and separate your trash but most people aren’t so keen. Household waste is typically filled with some pretty flammable materials: mail, packaging, and a whole host of other junk made from combustible materials. Add a battery to that mix and you can easily start a fire. Batteries are full of unstable chemicals that are extremely flammable, particularly when joined by loads of other batteries in a landfill site.
It is important to recycle your batteries instead of just throwing them away. Here’s why it is so important that we all make a positive shift towards a safer, more sustainable battery disposal methods.
Why are batteries so flammable?
Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere. They’re the battery found in any object that can take a charge like smartphones, tablets, toys, and electric cars.
Despite the fact that these batteries can be found throughout your home, the need to be handled with care. The chemistry inside them is delicately balanced and if exposed to certain chemicals, excess heat, or excess pressure, they can explode. Not just catch fire, but explode!
Take a moment and think about what happens to a battery once it is in your trash can. It will be loaded on to the back of a garbage truck where it will be crushed down, compacted, and transported in pretty hot conditions until it reaches the landfill site. It’s no wonder that lithium-ion batteries cause so many truck fires in the garbage disposal industry.
So, if you’re getting a replacement iPhone battery, or you’re upgrading to a newer tech gadget, think about what to do with your old batteries.
Here are some of our suggestions for ways to recycle your old batteries instead.
iPhone batteries and other rechargeables
If your iPhone 6 Plus battery has given up the ghost, don’t just throw it in the trash. A rechargeable battery like this is highly unstable and can easily combust when handled by the forces of a garbage compressing truck.
So, if you’ve just bought an iPhone battery replacement kit, then think carefully about what to do with the old battery. Even if it seems completely dead, the acid lurking within is still as dangerous as it ever was.
Luckily, there is a growing number of recycling services available for iPhone batteries. Local electronics stores usually take old batteries for recycling, and specialist recycling services are increasingly popping up across the US.
Alternatively, it’s worth trying Call2Recycle, which bills themselves as the country’s ‘largest, most reliable battery recycling program.’ With around 34,000 locations, they are a convenient place to drop lithium-ion batteries to be recycled. They even provide commercial spaces with collection boxes, giving even more people access to safe, sustainable, environmentally-friendly, disposal options.
The traditional batteries, like the AA or AAA in your television remotes, are known as alkaline batteries. They are not as dangerous as rechargeable batteries but care should still be taken when getting rid of them. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Never throw away large amounts of alkaline batteries at the same time. One or two at a time is okay, but large numbers pose a fire risk. Even if they have no charge whatsoever, there will still be sufficient power to pose a safety risk.
- Never dispose of alkaline batteries in a fire. Keep them away from heat or a flame because the will explode.
- Consider recycling alkaline batteries instead of throwing them out. Depending on your location, there may be an alkaline battery recycler nearby. Do your research first and make sure that they are disposing of them properly. Some places will say they are recycling them and then simply throw them away.
- Do not put your alkaline batteries in your household recycling. Battery recycling uses different, specialized processes.
Lead-acid batteries, which are typical for car batteries, should never be disposed of in your standard household trash or recycling. They are really harmful to the environment if abandoned and allowed to degrade. Fortunately, it’s easy to get your car battery recycled thanks to Earth911, who have a helpful search function to find local specialist recycling centers. Alternatively, most auto parts stores will offer to recycle your old battery for free when you purchase a new one.
Whether you’ve performed an iPhone battery replacement or just upgraded your car, it is important to sustainably and carefully recycle your old battery. With climate change presenting real consequences for the environment, it is important that we all take positive steps towards protecting the oceans and the world around us.
Recycling old batteries is an easy, sustainable habit we can all adopt that might just make a big difference.