A collection of batteries awaiting recycling

How to safely dispose, recycle and reuse dead batteries

Batteries are varied, from ordinary alkaline and carbon-zinc batteries to single-use or rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to small sealed lead-acid. They serve almost endless purposes, too. However, like everything else artificial, they eventually turn into rubbish.

So, let’s talk trash; How do you safely dispose, recycle, and reuse dead batteries? Just as there are differences in the battery, the way to dispose of it is different. Today we’ll show you how to safely dispose, recycle and reuse the two main categories of batteries – single use and rechargeable.

Single use batteries

Lots of drained batteries standing around

Single-use batteries, also known as alkaline, primary cell, or non-rechargeable batteries, are the most common type today. These devices power household items like light bulbs, toys, TV remotes, game consoles, and more. Disposable batteries come in different sizes as well, from AA and AAA to 9V and more. It has a short to medium life – as the name suggests, you can only use it once.

Single-use batteries feature many chemicals, from standard lithium-ion cells and zinc and lead to mercury and nickel. These toxic chemicals can seep into the soil and into the water supply if disposal is not managed properly. Check how to handle proper disposal of them below:

How to recycle single use batteries

To properly recycle single-use batteries, collect and package them so that their active terminals are not touching to prevent damage. Be very careful with leaking batteries as the contents are toxic as mentioned. If the battery is leaking, clean it and store it separately.

Once the batteries are packed and ready, check with your local municipal or waste collection service to see if they offer recycling and what they can and cannot pick up. If single-use batteries are not accepted, you will have to take them to a paid recycling center. Fortunately, these centers often only charge a small fee, so the endeavor shouldn’t set you back too much.

How to dispose of single use batteries

If recycling isn’t an open option, you may have to dispose of the disposable batteries yourself. But as noted, you cannot throw them away because they will end up in a landfill. Alternatively, find or call your regional waste management authority and turn it in. They often send these batteries to sorters and processors where they are recycled into stainless steel sheets, new batteries and various other products.

rechargeable batteries

A pile of dead batteries for disposal

Rechargeable batteries slowly wear out and replace single-use batteries. As of this writing, for every five dry cell batteries purchased, one can be recharged. Their popularity is due to their cost-effectiveness – they can be recharged and reused for a long time. You’ll find them in almost every mobile device nowadays, from smartphones to cameras, laptops, and even cars.

Rechargeable batteries typically contain chemicals such as lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and nickel metal. While lithium is not as toxic as other chemicals, it can still have a harmful effect on the environment in large amounts. This is why it is so important to make sure that rechargeable Li-ion batteries as well as those containing other, more dangerous chemicals, are completely disposed of.

How to recycle rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries are easier to recycle than single-use batteries because most recycling centers readily accept them. They do this because they can be recycled into new products and put back on the market. For example, when Li-ion batteries are recycled, they produce lithium metal, which can be resold or used to make sulfur dioxide batteries, and lithium carbonate, a fine white powder that can be reused into metal ingots or foils for other batteries.

Besides your local municipal and waste hauler, you can also check out the following for rechargeable battery recycling:

  • home improvement stores
  • Office supply stores
  • Major retailers like Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart

How to get rid of dead rechargeable batteries

Dead rechargeable batteries cannot be disposed of. it’s a Doing so is illegal in some states. Therefore, getting rid of them easily is not an option. The best step is to collect them until you are ready to drop them off at the recycling center.

Reuse dead rechargeable batteries

Here are some creative DIY projects you can try to reuse recently dead rechargeable batteries, because they only require a little juice.

DIY power bank from old laptop batteries

Laptops are modern desks. We take them wherever we go, and they, in turn, allow most of us to work from wherever we want. However, as with any digital device, they are subject to wear and tear – unfortunately, the battery always seems to wear out first. On the bright side, you’ll find that with most old laptop batteries, there are only a couple of cells left, providing an opportunity to craft your own and turn it into something useful. Take a look at this Instruction manual Learn how to turn an old laptop battery into a do-it-yourself power bank. In addition to the battery, here you will find more What can you salvage for your broken laptop.

To save Mother Nature, you can try these other things Lifesaver power bank ideas Using materials readily available in your junk mailbox.


We’ve all seen a remote controlled toy car, but a remote controlled car? This is new, and the good news is that you can use your old batteries to build one yourself. In addition to a battery (get it from an old power bank) you will need an Arduino Uno, battery holder, rubber wheels, gear motor, sound sensor and L298D motor. Check out how to do that Huster guide To make this futuristic game.

Are you experiencing insufficient power issues with one of the many cordless tools in your DIY stack? Grab your old NiCd batteries waiting to be recycled, and tap them for extra power. Check this out Instructables tutorial to find out how to do it.

Here are more DIY projects using old or dead batteries you can try.

Ensure proper storage: Dead batteries have a small amount of energy left and can cause explosions or fire without proper handling. Ensure that there is no contact between the active terminals when collecting them for recycling, reuse, or disposal.

Protect Mother Nature: Recycle, reuse, or dispose of dead batteries properly

We are moving into the age of electrically powered devices using batteries. While it’s a much welcome change, it will result in more waste for a dead or partially used battery. Protect Mother Nature from this impending waste problem by properly disposing, recycling, or reusing dead batteries.

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