Non-rechargeable batteries (also labeled primary cell or alkaline batteries) have a short life span and must be disposed of once they wear out. Single-use batteries come in a range of shapes and sizes, and power things like your flashlight, your child’s toy and your remote control. Once the power source has been drained, batteries must be disposed of properly.
Common types of non-rechargeable batteries:
- Alkaline cells
- Zinc-carbon cells
- Mercury cells
- Lithium cells
- Silver-Oxide cells
Why it matters
SINGLE-USE BATTERIES – Batteries contain all kinds of chemicals — cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, lithium, zinc and silver are just some of them. When battery casings corrode in landfills, toxic heavy metals and reactive acids can leach into the soil and make their way into our water supply — not good news for wildlife or humans. Be especially careful of cadmium: it can cause damage to soil micro-organisms and affect the breakdown of organic matter.
What you can do
1. Choose safer alternatives
The best way to manage household hazardous waste is to create less of it.
- Take time to recharge. Look for environmentally friendly alternatives such as rechargeable batteries, which are also available in a variety of sizes (e.g. AA, AAA, 9V, D) and are better for the environment. They may seem more expensive, but rechargeable batteries can save you serious money in the long run.
- Conserve energy. Practice conservation by turning off battery-operated products when not in use.
2. Store it safely
Remove spent batteries and store them in a dry place at room temperature. Keeping batteries in a high-heat area can reduce their performance and cause them to leak.
3. Dispose of it properly
Single-use batteries contain toxic metals and reactive acids that can be harmful to the environment and human health, so keep them out of the landfill and dispose of them properly. Regional waste management authorities offer drop-offs and collection events that accept batteries and other hazardous products from your home. Find your nearest drop-off site.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Collected batteries are sent to sorters and processors in the U.S. and Canada. They are sorted by chemistry, melted down and come back to life as batteries and sheets of stainless steel.