Proper Disposal of a Lithium Ion Battery

Updated May 03, 2018

Lithium ion batteries are found in many electronics like laptops, digital cameras, power tools and cordless phones. These batteries are very popular because they can be recharged and because of their ability to supply power for a long period of time. However, even lithium ion batteries reach a point where they can no longer hold a charge and need to be disposed of. When this time comes, it is important to know how to recycle the battery, and not simply put it in a trash can.

Why Can't They Be Thrown in the Garbage?

Lithium ion batteries are not yet classified as hazardous waste by the United States Government, but there are many reasons to recycle these batteries rather than throw them away where they may end up in a regular landfill. Exposure to the elements in these batteries can lead to respiratory problems and, in some cases, skin rashes. In many states, it is illegal to throw away lithium ion batteries. This is because they enter the solid waste stream and contaminate soil and water. In addition, if this kind of battery is subjected to high temperatures, it may explode.

Recycling Centers

In the United States, there are a large number of recycling centres available all over the country. To locate a centre near you, you can call 1-800-8-BATTERY or 1-877-2-RECYCLE. People can also visit and use the recycling centre locater on the website. There are a number of companies that have signed up to be battery recycling collection centres so bringing the battery to any franchise of these companies will be sufficient. The list of companies includes Alltel, AT&T, Best Buy, Black & Decker, DeWalt, The Home Depot, Interstate All Battery Centers, Lowe's, Milwaukee Electrical Tool, Office Depot, Orchard Supply, Porter Cable Service Centers, RadioShack, Remington Product Company, Sears, Staples, Target, US Cellular and Verizon Wireless.

What Happens Next

The collected batteries are sent to recycling facilites where the materials that make up the battery are separated. These materials include cadmium, nickel, cobalt, iron and lead. These materials are then crafted into new products including stainless steel and new batteries. According to the organisation Call 2 Recycle, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed that this is the best demonstrated available technology.

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About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."