I looked online to see how many people were still googling this because your regular, modern, everyday AA batteries are meant to be thrown in the trash. But then I realized just how many different types of batteries there are in the world! So, let’s take a deep dive into how to recycle batteries and we’ll try to cover as many categories as we can think of.
Single-Use Batteries (but not watch batteries!)
When you’re thinking about AA, AAA, D, and the like, you’re talking about single-use batteries. These are the Duracell, Energizer, and Rayovac batteries we’re all familiar with from the endcap at the grocery store. These batteries are now meant to be thrown away in all states except California.
That being said, however, you are clearly a person who would like to recycle their batteries. So, the first thing you can do is Google your city/township/county recycling center to see if they have a collection program or an upcoming event. You can also use this Battery Recycling directory to see if there is a collection center near you. Or, use this directory to find out which retailers near you accept batteries for recycling. Basically, the takeaway here is don’t throw batteries into your neighborhood recycling bin.
Button-Cell Batteries (for watches, hearing aids, car keyless entry remotes, calculators)
I had to put button-cell batteries in their own category because these are meant to be recycled. These batteries contain lithium and as such are toxic to the environment. Again, these are not meant to be put in your neighborhood recycling bin. Please use this directory to find out where you can recycle these. If you’re near a Best Buy, Home Depot, or Lowes they have receptacles for them in-store.
Like single-use batteries, these are easy to recycle because you can drop them off at many retailers. In fact, 99% of materials in these types of batteries are recyclable! Walmart, Sears, and Auto Zone are just a few retailers who accept them. But, if you’re in a rural area this car battery recycling directory may be of use to find another retailer near you.
Rechargeable Batteries (for items like rechargeable AAA batteries, cell-phones, laptops, anything that holds a charge).
While you cannot put these in your neighborhood recycling bin, there are myriad places you can drop these off to get them recycled. If you’re in a rural location, you might want to check with your city/township/municipality recycling website and see if there is a designated collection receptacle for drop-offs or an upcoming collection event. And yes, all rechargeable batteries need to be recycled. If you’re recycling a cell phone battery, chances are that the place you purchased your cell phone takes them back. For example, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Best Buy all accept cell phone batteries (and cell phones) for recycling collection. Use this directory to find a cell phone battery recycling location.
If your batteries have leaked, then put them in a leak-proof bag and then place them into the collection receptacle. The collectors will be able to sort them out and dispose of any exposed liquid in an environmentally-friendly way.