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.
Batteries are considered hazardous because of the metals and/or other toxic or corrosive materials contain within. Batteries are potentially a valuable source of recyclable metal.
All batteries in California that are intended for disposal 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.
According to a report entitled, Household Universal Waste Generation in California, August 2002, there were 507,259,000 batteries sold in California in the year 2001. According to survey results published in the report, only 0.55% of these batteries were recycled.
Hazardous waste regulations designate a category of hazardous wastes called "universal waste." This category includes many items, batteries, fluorescent lamps, cathode ray tubes, instruments that contain mercury, and others.
Under California's Universal Waste Rule households and conditionally exempt small quantity generators were allowed to dispose batteries (not lead/acid batteries of the type used in autos), fluorescent lamps, mercury thermostats, and electronic devices to the trashthrough February 8, 2006. Local trash companies or other agencies were allowed to ban these items from the trash any time before February 8, 2006. Large and small quantity handlers are required to ship their universal waste to either another handler, a universal waste transfer station, a recycling facility, or a disposal facility. Under the California's Universal Waste Rule, specified waste generators were permitted to send specified universal wastes to landfills, but this disposal allowance has expired.
Contact the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) for more information. Also see the DTSC Web page on universal waste.
Where to Recycle or Safely Dispose Batteries
- Local Solutions
- Rechargeable Battery and Cell Phone Drop-Off Locator. Find where to recycle used rechargeable batteries from the Call2Recycle website.
- Earth911.com. Or call 1-800-CLEANUP (1-800-253-2687), a service of Earth 911, to find the nearest recycling center. Includes information about most recyclable household waste, including household hazardous waste collection centers.
- eRecycle.org. Recycle your batteries and electronics.
- Where Can I Recycle My.... Call 1-800-CLEAN-UP (253-2687) or enter your ZIP code at this website to find the nearest recycling center. Includes information about most recyclable household waste, including household hazardous waste collection centers.
- Local Governmental Household Hazardous Waste Agencies. See the website for your local governmental household hazardous waste agency for the latest information in your area.
- Other Solutions
- The Big Green Box. The Big Green Box™ is a national program that offers companies, consumers, municipalities, and other generators, a low cost, easy, and flexible way to recycle their batteries and portable electronic devices. Once The Big Green Box™ is purchased, all shipping, handling, and recycling fees are included. The Big Green Box™ includes a UN approved, pre-labeled container, pre-paid shipping to and from the recycling facility, and of course, all recycling fees.
- Battery Solutions. Battery recycling solutions for businesses, governmental agencies, and consumers.
- Retriev Technologies Inc. A company that recycles most types and sizes of batteries including alkaline, Lithium, Mercury, NiCd, Lead and many others.
- Kinsbursky Brothers Inc. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permitted battery-recycling facility in California.
- Aqua Metals. A company that recycles lead acid batteries via aqua refining.
NOTE: CalRecycle provides this list of battery recycling options for informational purposes only. Neither CalRecycle nor the State of California endorses the companies listed or the technologies they employ in recycling batteries.
Other Ways that You Can Help
- Buy Rechargeable Batteries and a Battery Charger. Devices powered by ordinary AAA, AA, C, D, and 9 Volt batteries can be powered by rechargeable batteries of those sizes.
- Look for Portable Electronic Devices that Do Not Use Batteries. There are a few that use no batteries at all, but instead use a capacitor that is recharged, typically by shaking the device or by normal use. See Alternative Power Products for details.
- Reduce. Use single use batteries wisely to avoid unnecessary replacement and disposal.
CalRecycle Public Service Announcements (PSA)
Batteries: It's so easy to recycle your batteries! Batteries are considered hazardous because of the metals and/or other toxic or corrosive materials they contain. Batteries are potentially a valuable source of recyclable metal. All batteries in California must be taken to a Household Hazardous Waste disposal facility, a universal waste handler, or an authorized recycling facility.
CalRecycle Programs and Services
- Alternative Power Products. Products that utilize power obtained through mechanical means, such as winding, shaking, or squeezing.
- Electrical Storage, Present, Past and Future. A description of all types of rechargeable batteries.
- Rechargeable Batteries and Chargers. An introduction to buying and using rechargeable batteries.
- Recycling Containers. Sources of containers for storing used batteries, as well as containers for storing other recyclables.
- Solid Waste Facilities, Sites and Operations, Universal Waste. What local enforcement agencies need to know about "universal waste."
CalRecycle has either printed or Web publications on this topic that you can find at either our publication search page or our website search page. However, not all of these publications apply to "waste prevention" in the most literal use of that term. CalRecycle publications that do apply to waste prevention include:
- Lead Acid Batteries, Hazardous and Responsible Use. Negative health and environmental effects of lead-acid batteries if they are disposed of or handled improperly, tips on maintaining lead-acid batteries, and information on recycling lead-acid batteries.
10 X 14.5 Inches
Battery Poster Details and Downloads
Text--Keep batteries out of the trash. Contact your local household hazardous waste agency. Includes all batteries of sizes AAA, AA, C, D, button cell, 9 Volt, and all others, both rechargeable and single use. Protect the environment and help recover resources. For more information, visit California Department of Toxic Substances Control website.
5 X 5 Inches
Battery Sticker Note--This sticker is suitable for use on indoor and outdoor waste receptacles.
Text--Batteries. Keep out of Trash. Contact your local household hazardous waste agency. For more information, visit California Department of Toxic Substances Control website.
- Implementation of the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act. U.S. EPA, November, 1997.