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What Should I Do with Old Batteries?

Lead acid batteries are dangerous for the environment and should be recycled.
Old car batteries should be turned into a proper recycling facility.
Some rechargeable batteries are considered toxic waste and should be dropped off at hazardous waste collection centers when they're no longer functioning.
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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2014
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Disposing of old batteries can be a confusing and difficult task. While many people may simply want to toss them in the trash, this can add more harmful chemicals and metals to an increasingly polluted world. Environmentalists advocate recycling old batteries or disposing of them properly. Some areas, like California, require consumers and businesses to recycle batteries. Finding places that recycle batteries can be difficult, but with a little research, this task can be accomplished.

Most batteries are alkaline batteries, which can be simply thrown away when they're spent. When these die, or no longer work, they should be removed from the device as soon as possible to prevent them from leaking. Since they can possibly explode when knocked around, these batteries should not be dropped into a pocket or purse. Instead, they should be stored someplace they will not be disturbed until you can find a place that will recycle batteries.

In theory, using rechargeable batteries for your household electronics should help prevent toxic waste in landfills. Unfortunately, these types of batteries contain more harmful toxins than non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, so they end up being worse for the environment. To avoid throwing these in the trash, you can usually return them to any store that sells these types of batteries. In some areas, these stores are required to take back these old batteries.

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Some towns and cities may have battery recycling facilities. Some of these facilities do not charge anything, while others may charge a small fee. Stores, especially electronics stores, may also take batteries. Local municipalities may also allow residents to drop off their spent batteries for recycling.

Some old batteries are also considered toxic waste. These include button batteries and some rechargeable batteries. Batteries in laptops, cellular phones, and cordless power tools are all considered to be rechargeable batteries. These old batteries can be dropped off at hazardous waste collection centers.

A few stores will take old rechargeable batteries off your hands as well, depending on the type of battery. Old batteries from cellular phones or laptops, for example, can sometimes be dropped off at electronics stores. Hardware stores, on the other hand, may take old batteries that were used in power tools.

Car batteries are the worst types of old batteries for the environment. These often contain a large amount of lead-acid. Most stores that sell vehicle batteries also recycle them. Many times, they will also offer a discount on a new battery if you trade in your old battery. These stores may also offer help installing your new battery, usually at no extra cost.

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