Household batteries

Some household batteries may contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, nickel, and silver which can contaminate our air and water when the batteries are incinerated, landfilled or improperly disposed of.

Once a battery is used up or no longer useful, the battery’s chemistry will determine how best to dispose of it. Look on the battery’s label or packaging to identify what it is made of and to identify the safe disposal method.

PDF icon Household battery recycling and disposal

Rechargeable batteries

rechargeablebatteriesA rechargeable battery can be recharged up to 1,000 times before a recycling facility takes them apart and their metals are recovered.

In Minnesota, it is against the law to throw rechargeable batteries in the trash. Call2Recycle® is nonprofit organization that offers a network of more than 30,000 collection sites throughout North America. Visit to find a recycling location near you.

  • Nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd): Commonly found in cordless power tools, cordless phones, digital and video cameras, two-way radios, biomedical equipment, or professional video cameras.
  • Lithium ion (Li-ion): Commonly found in cellphones, cordless power tools, cordless phones digital cameras, two-way radios, laptops, tablets and e-readers, two-way radios.
  • Nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH): Commonly found in cellphones, cordless power tools, digital cameras, two-way radios.
  • Nickel Zinc (Ni-Zn): Commonly found in digital cameras, wireless keyboards, small electronics.
  • Small sealed lead acid (Pb) Commonly found in mobility scooters, fire emergency devices, UPS systems, hospital equipment, emergency lighting.

Single-use batteries

  • Lithium (non-rechargeable): Commonly found in cameras, computer memory backup, watches, remote controls, hand-held games.
  • Single-use batteriesButton batteries: Commonly found in watches, car keyless entry remotes, hearing aides, medical devices, calculators.

Do not throw lithium or button batteries in trash. Take them to a participating retailer or to a household hazardous waste facility.

Handling precautions: Lithium batteries may be reactive. Place each in a separate plastic bag or place non-conductive (electrical tape) over the battery terminals. Place tape around each button batter

  • Alkaline: Can be found in alarm clocks, calculators, flashlights, TV remote controls, remote control toys, radios.

OK to throw. Due to concerns about mercury, battery producers have voluntarily eliminated mercury from alkaline batteries since 1993. Alkaline batteries purchased before 1993 should be taken to your household hazardous waste facility.

Automotive batteries

  • Lead-acid batteriesLead-acid batteries: Motor vehicle batteries contain about 18 pounds of lead and about one gallon of corrosive lead-contaminated sulfuric acid. Lead-acid batteries can also be found in boats, snowmobiles, golf carts, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and wheelchairs. In Minnesota, it is against the law to throw these batteries in the trash.

Return to the retailer or take to a household hazardous waste facility. By law, auto battery retailers must accept up to five lead-acid batteries from consumers free of charge.

PDF icon Used Motor Vehicle Batteries

Handling tips: If you remove a battery, store it in a leak-proof container and keep it dry. Keep battery away from children and pets.

  • Hybrid and plug-in electric vehicle batteries: Most of today's electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries. The vehicle, plug-in kit, and battery manufacturers are jointly responsible for managing end of life rechargeable batteries under Minn. Stat. §§ 115A.9157 and 325E.125. If you own an electric vehicle, ask your dealer or contact the manufacturer for recycling instructions.

Battery handling tips

Store batteries in a vented plastic bucket or sturdy cardboard box. Do not place an airtight lid on the container because gases that vent from batteries may be trapped and create a potentially dangerous situation.

Wash your hands with soap and water after handling batteries, or use gloves.

If storing batteries together, place non-conducting (electrical) tape over terminals or place individual batteries in plastic bags to prevent short-circuiting.

Do not attempt to discharge a battery by short-circuiting the terminals.

Older batteries may rust and leak after long periods of storage. If a battery appears to be dirty or have a white-like substance around the terminals, use caution when handling the battery, and do not touch the dirty area. Place it in a bag for recycling or disposal.