How to Responsibly Dispose of Old Car Batteries

How to Responsibly Dispose of Old Car Batteries

How to Responsibly Dispose of Old Car Batteries

Why Proper Disposal is Important

Old car batteries contain toxic chemicals like lead and sulfuric acid that can pollute the environment if not disposed of properly. Responsible battery disposal is important to protect the health of people, animals, and the planet.

Improper disposal can lead to:

  • Lead and acid from batteries leaching into soil and groundwater. This can pose health risks if contaminated water is ingested.

  • Battery chemicals washing into lakes, rivers, and oceans, harming wildlife habitats. Fish and other animals can absorb toxins, which move up the food chain.

  • Toxic fumes released if batteries are incinerated improperly, putting the public and waste disposal workers at risk of breathing in dangerous vapors.

How to Dispose of Car Batteries

Disposing of old car batteries responsibly keeps them out of landfills and the environment. Here are some recommended options:

Return Battery to Retailer

Many auto parts stores and retailers that sell car batteries have programs to take back and recycle old batteries. When buying a new battery, check with the retailer if they offer an exchange program or battery return.

This is often the easiest way to ensure responsible disposal, as the store handles proper recycling or disposal. Some stores may even provide a refund or credit when you return the old battery.

Look Up Local Recycling Programs

Your city or township may have special battery recycling days or sites that accept household hazardous wastes like batteries. These are sometimes run through municipal public works departments or your local waste management authority.

Contact your city recycling coordinator or check their website to find information on local battery recycling programs. Some counties or townships also have permanent household hazardous waste drop-off sites for batteries and other toxic items.

Take Batteries to a Commercial Recycler

Look up commercial battery recycling companies in your region if retailer and municipal options aren’t available. Many recyclers specialize in safely handling different types of batteries.

When choosing a battery recycler, opt for EPA-certified Responsible Recyclers with good reputations. Responsibly recycling your old batteries may come with a small fee at some recyclers.

Donate to Charities Accepting Batteries

Some nonprofit organizations, like the Salvation Army and Goodwill, accept donated car batteries at certain locations. Contact your local charities to see if they take batteries for recycling.

This can repurpose your old batteries to help fund their charitable programs. Just make sure to safely transport batteries when donating them.

Safe Battery Handling Tips

Follow these tips when removing, transporting, and disposing of old car batteries:

  • Wear gloves and eye protection when handling batteries to avoid acid burns. Avoid direct contact with battery acid.

  • Store batteries upright in a sturdy container with an acid-proof liner, like a plastic bin or tub. This prevents spills and leaks.

  • Do not stack multiple batteries together, which can lead to cracking and acid leaks. Transport each battery upright and separately.

  • Neutralize any battery acid spills with baking soda and water. Avoid using rags or paper towels that can react with the acid.

  • Check for battery retailer and community hazardous waste programs before resorting to landfill disposal. Only use landfills as a last resort if other disposal options are unavailable.

Responsibly disposing of automotive batteries keeps toxic chemicals out of the environment and protects public health. Following these guidelines and using recommended battery return, recycling, and donation programs ensures your old car batteries are handled safely.