How To Recycle Household Batteries

How To Recycle Household Batteries

  • Editor’s Note: This article was written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jennifer Jarland at 630-208-3841 or recycle@countyofkane.org.

I am sure many of you have bags, jars or coffee canisters full of dead batteries stashed away somewhere. Batteries come in many shapes and sizes, and types.

Alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, 12V) are the most common household batteries, but lithium ion batteries (shaped like a coin, a thick flat card, blocks, or wrapped bundles) are increasing in use.

Please read on for information on how to properly recycle your dead household batteries.

You cannot place them in your recycling cart, or on top of it, for that matter. The old method of popping them on top of the cart lid is no longer in use because most companies now have fully-automated trucks that pick up garbage and recycling containers via a mechanical arm on the side of the truck.

While the law prohibits commercial businesses from disposing large amounts of batteries in landfills, it exempts residential quantities.  Even though it is legal to toss single-use or rechargeable household batteries in the trash, it is not ideal — especially since there are places you can recycle them.

Please take them to a drop-off recycling location if at all possible.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries are used to power an increasing number of devices, such as watches, cell phones, thermometers, remote car locks, laser pointers, MP3 players, digital cameras, hearing aids, calculators, remote control toys, and battery backup systems in computers.

Single-use lithium ion batteries look very similar to alkaline, so check out the type of battery first.  Lithium ion batteries used today offer longer battery life while offering multiple charges.   With more lithium ion batteries in the marketplace, it is important more than ever to recycle lithium ion batteries right.

Prevent Sparks

The introduction of lithium batteries to the consumer market has increased fire-risk throughout the disposal chain, because they can spark a fire if handled incorrectly. It’s very important not to place these batteries in the curbside recycling carts as fires have been reported due to batteries becoming damaged by the sorting or heavy equipment crushing the batteries.

Please follow these instructions on how to safely prepare lithium batteries for recycling through a drop-off program.

  • Tape over the contacts of all lithium batteries (and the 9V, 12V alkaline batteries as well) to prevent the contact points from touching each other or other metallic items.
  • Place lithium batteries in a resealable plastic bag.
  • Deliver to a recycling drop-off location, as listed below.

Battery Best Practices

Even though it is actually legal to drop your household batteries in the garbage (and even though manufacturers claim that they are safe to put in the landfill), it’s just simply not a good practice.

The quantity of single-use batteries coming from residential sources presents a cumulatively hazardous level of heavy metals in landfills, which could otherwise be recycled.

The best way to reduce waste with batteries is to invest in a battery charger and buy rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries make better use of resources, because you can use them multiple times before recycling, and there are many locations to recycle rechargeable batteries.

Rechargeable batteries are easier to process and have more readily recyclable material in them than single-use batteries do.

Battery Drop-Off Locations

These locations are free and open to all Kane County residents (not for businesses), open seven days a week:

  • Elgin Township Highway Garage:  725 S. McLean Blvd., Elgin / 847-741-4637
  • Elgin Fire Station: 650 Big Timber Road, Elgin / 847-741-4637​
  • Elgin Fire District Annex: 8N709 Stevens Road, Elgin / 847-741-4637
  • Pingree Grove Fire Station: 39W160 Plank Road, Elgin / 847-741-4637

These locations are free and open to city residents only (not for businesses):

  • Batavia City Hall: 100 N Island Ave, Batavia / 630-879-1424
    Open M-F 8am-3pm (for Batavia Residents Only​)
  • Batavia Public Works: 200 N. Raddant Rd., Batavia / 630-454-2000
    • Open M-F 8am-3pm (for Batavia Residents Only​)
  • Geneva Public Works: 1800 South Street, Geneva / 630-232-1501
    • Open M-F 9:30am-3:30pm (for Geneva Residents Only​)
  • St. Charles Public Works: 1405 S. 7th Ave., St. Charles / 630-377-4405
    • Open M-F 8am-4:30pm (for St. Charles Residents Only​)

Batteries Plus locations are open to all but do have a small cost per pound.

  • ​Geneva: 1492 S. Randall Rd. / 630-313-5700​
  • Elgin: 352 S. Randall​ Rd. / 847-289-8990
  • Hours: M-F 8a-8p; Sat 9a-7p; Sun 10a-5p
  • Fees may apply – $0.25 to $1 per pound – to recycle at Batteries Plus.

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