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.

Do not put batteries in your recycling bin!

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. Bring unwanted batteries to your local household hazardous water facility. Call your county environmental office for location and drop-off hours. You can also visit Call2Recycle.org to find a recycling location near you. Call2Recycle® is nonprofit organization that offers a network of more than 30,000 collection sites throughout North America.

  • 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 or flammable, especially if cracked or swollen. To prevent short circuiting, place each battery in a separate plastic bag or put non-conductive (electrical tape) over the battery terminals.

  • Alkaline: Commonly 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. But alkaline batteries purchased before 1993 should be taken to your household hazardous waste facility.

 

Limited collection options for single-use batteries: Some Call2Recycle® locations accept single-use batteries. Visit Call2Recycle.org and use "find a location" or "locator" and then uncheck "rechargeables" and "cell phones" to view sites that collect single-use batteries.

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 are commonly 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 wher you originally purchased the battery. 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 and 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, but do not place an airtight lid on the container, because gases that vent from batteries may be trapped and create a potentially dangerous situation.

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.

Use gloves and wash your hands with soap and water after handling batteries.