One of the most frequent questions we are asked is "where can I recycle alkaline AAA, AA, C, D or 9 volt batteries?"
Aside from that, local governments usually instruct consumers to put them in your trash.
Alkaline batteries are a challenge most places to recycle. First, no one actually "recycles" them. If you think you know of a facility that genuinely accepts consumer alkaline batteries from consumers and does truly recycle them, do tell us - we're pretty certain there are none. Used alkaline batteries are pretty worthless, economically speaking. Even Earth911 says "There has been debate about recycling single-use batteries and whether or not it's actually cost effective. Each individual battery contains a small amount of reusable material, including zinc, manganese, and steel."
Years ago, the mercury that made them hazardous was removed from the manufacturing process, so while we would not recommend eating them, putting them in a fire, or breaking them open... they're pretty innocuous.
The state of NJ says: "Alkaline batteries now fall below Federal and State hazardous waste standards and can be disposed of in the regular trash."
All other states agree (except California); for example, the state of Georgia advises :
Since the mercury content of alkaline batteries has been reduced, they can be safely disposed of in household garbage. They are accepted via IKEA and some hardware and home improvement stores in small quantities.
But even in California, the mother lode of environmentalism, there's really no recycling of alkaline batteries going on. They're collected, yes, but most likely end up in a landfill. Even more interesting, while the state of California tells you it is illegal to put alkaline batteries in the trash, they don't provide a practical means ofrecycling, saying:
"All batteries are considered hazardous waste in California when they are discarded. This includes all batteries of sizes AAA, AA, C, D, button cell, 9 Volt, and all other batteries, both rechargeable and single use. All batteries must be recycled, or taken to a household hazardous waste disposal facility, a universal waste handler (e.g., storage facility or broker), or an authorized recycling facility."
Like people are going to drive to some center when they have 2 AA batteries to get rid of. This type of misguided overregulation will lead to more improper disposal. Regulators should seek to make doing the right thing easier and cheaper...not adding burdens!
Outside of CA it is legal to throw single-use alkaline batteries in your regular trash however we strongly encourage you to recycle them instead. Many cities and counties will collect single-use batteries during their household hazardous waste collection events.
Alkaline batteries can be safely disposed of with normal household waste. Never dispose of batteries in fire because they could explode. Due to concerns about mercury in the municipal solid waste stream, we have voluntarily eliminated all of the added mercury from our alkaline batteries since 1993, while maintaining the performance you demand. Our alkaline batteries are composed primarily of common metals-steel, zinc, and manganese-and do not pose a health or environmental risk during normal use or disposal.
If it bothers your conscience to through alkaline batteries in the trash, you can pay to have them legitimately recycled.We know of 2 companies that will do this.
This company (see Amazon box at right) offers a disposal by mail kit.
And the Think Green From Home Dry Cell Battery Recycling Kit provides a
solution for household recycling. You can use the recycling box to store 9
volt and smaller used alkaline, carbon-zinc, NiCad, and NiMH batteries. The
kit includes a pre-paid return shipping label, so when the box is full,
simply seal it and place by your mailbox for postal pickup.
Battery Recycling Kit
Dry Cell Battery Recycling Kit - $19.95
This is recycling for a fee; not a free service. Here's how it works:
Their recycling plant is EPA permitted and is currently handling battery recycling for several municipal waste centers in Missouri. You can also find their profile on the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as a Battery Recycler! They say:
"We have some of the best battery recycling technology in the nation, and we are able to recover over 95% of the materials from each battery! We then create a variety of micronutrient fertilizers with much of the materials, while sending the rest off to other companies to be further processed into new batteries or other products.
Better yet, we have a service called GoRecycle that can ship batteries from any household or business straight to us in Rolla Missouri.
Click for the GoRecycle page "