Homeowners Guide to Proper Household Battery Management

Due to regulatory changes and less hazardous battery compositions, battery collection practices will change. As of January 1, 2010, many municipalities in Union County will no longer accept batteries either at their recycling centers or with the curbside collection of recyclables.

Since the New Jersey Dry Cell Battery Management Act was adopted in 1991 and the Federal Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act was adopted in 1996, household battery manufacturers have begun manufacturing alkaline batteries with no added mercury and have reduced the amount of mercury added to other batteries. Alkaline batteries now fall below Federal and State hazardous waste standards and can be disposed of in the regular trash.

What types of batteries can I recycle?

Rechargeable batteries should be recycled. They can be found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, digital cameras, two-way radios, camcorders, and remote control toys. Rechargeable batteries sometimes look like regular alkaline batteries. The label on the battery will indicate if it is rechargeable. If it says “Alkaline”, dispose of it in the regular trash.

Where can I bring my rechargeable batteries for recycling?

Rechargeable batteries CAN be recycled at participating retail locations including the following: Radio Shack, Best Buy, Staples, Target, Office Max, Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, Wal-Mart and Verizon Wireless. To find a retail collection site, use the collection site locator at call2recycle.org or call the consumer helpline, 1-877-2-RECYCLE.

What about button cell batteries?

Most button cell batteries still contain mercury. These batteries can be brought to any of Union County’s Household Hazardous Waste Events. Union County will accept rechargeable and button cell batteries at Household Hazardous Waste events. Remember, batteries must be properly prepared before drop off. New Federal regulations require that have been enacted to prevent short circuiting of batteries during transport. Residents must individually bag each battery or tape each of the terminal ends prior to recycling.

How to Dispose of Batteries in Union County, Safely

 “Avoid the spark” to prevent battery fires.

In recognition of National Fire Prevention Week, the Union County Board of County Commissioners encourages residents to learn how to dispose of spent household batteries properly.

An increasing number of fires linked to improper battery disposal are occurring in waste hauling trucks, landfills and recycling facilities. Battery fires send clouds of noxious smoke into the air, expose workers to risk of injury, and raise costs for emergency response.

The rule of thumb is that only single-use alkaline batteries can go into household trash. These batteries are clearly marked “alkaline” on the package.

Everything else requires special handling. That includes:

  • Rechargeable batteries of any type.
  • Single use “button” type batteries, such as those used in smaller electronic devices.
  • Single use batteries marked “lithium.”

Residents can bring any of these batteries to Union County’s Household Hazardous Waste drop-off events for safe disposal. The next event will be held on Saturday, October 23. For location, hours, and a list of other special wastes accepted at the event, visit ucnj.org/recycling/household-special-waste.

Residents can also visit the organization Call2Recycle.org online for a list of nearby stores that accept spent batteries.

As a reminder, alkaline batteries may be disposed in household trash. Residents who are interested in recycling these batteries can learn about their options through Call2Recycle.