When batteries stop working, they should be removed and properly disposed of to avoid injury or damage to electronic devices. Certain types of batteries should be recycled or given to agencies that handle hazardous waste materials. You should identify what types you have, to ensure you dispose of batteries in the appropriate way. It is also important to keep used batteries separated, as they can react together in volatile ways.
Proper Storage Prior to Disposal
Once a battery loses power, you should remove it immediately from the device or object it is in, as it may begin to leak. Do not place it in your pocket or purse, since if it does rupture the chemicals within it can corrode other objects. Instead, place the battery in a container or resealable bag until you can dispose of it in the correct manner.
Identifying Hazardous Chemicals
Many regular, modern alkaline batteries are not considered hazardous waste and can be disposed of with normal household trash. For other batteries such as lithium, mercuric, and silver oxide as well as those containing nickel, however, you should err on the side of caution. You should follow the guidelines in your city or town regarding how to properly dispose of batteries.
Methods for Disposal
Since many types of batteries are considered household waste, you should follow proper guidelines for disposal. Your town or city most likely has a hazardous waste pick-up or drop-off day. Check with your city's website or newsletter to find what guidelines, if any, should be followed to properly dispose of batteries; hazardous waste days may be noted in your local newspaper. In most cases, batteries can be brought to your local recycling center at any time, or they can be picked up on your town's designated household waste disposal days.
Alternative Options for Disposal
Many automotive stores and other places that sell batteries accept them for recycling. In addition, there are commercial battery disposal organizations which recycle your batteries for a small fee. There may also be stores in your area with programs designed to help you dispose of batteries properly, which may do so free of charge.
Never try to dispose of batteries in a fire; they are likely to ignite, explode, and possibly release toxic gases that can be dangerous to you and others nearby. You should also not bury batteries that contain hazardous chemicals in a garden or park. The elements in these batteries can leak into the ground and nearby water, presenting a hazard to the environment.
Hazards of Batteries Together
While you may want to dispose of batteries in a group, you should not store them together. Even though a battery might not be able to run a toy or game anymore, it might still have a small bit of charge left. If several batteries bang together, they can emit a charge that can cause them to ignite. While the chances of this happening may be small, it is still safest to be cautious and avoid the opportunity for injury or damage.
It is also important to not mix old and new batteries together in order to get an electronic item to work. The new batteries often have a powerful charge that can ignite chemicals released by ruptured or leaking older ones. This can cause damage to you or the electronic item using the batteries, so replace all batteries within a device at the same time.