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The Ultimate Car Battery Disposal Guide (Tips, FAQs)

June 25, 2021

There are times when your old car battery might suddenly disappoint you. 

Your engine might be slow to start, or you’ll notice other early signs of battery failure

What should you do with that old battery?

Before you dispose of it together with household waste, you need to be aware of the dangers of improper car battery disposal. Automotive batteries contain hazardous materials and need to be disposed of safely.

In this article, we’ll explore why proper car battery disposal is important. You’ll discover how to safely remove and store your car battery and also find the best places to recycle or safely dispose of batteries

Lastly, we’ll take a look at some car battery disposal FAQs to clear up any questions you may have.

This Article Contains

Let’s get started. 

Why Proper Car Battery Disposal Is Important

A typical car battery is made from lead and sulfuric acid. Lead is a toxic metal, while sulfuric acid is a corrosive substance that causes critical damage.

If your car battery ends up in a landfill, its components could contaminate the soil and cause other environmental and health issues.

This way, when you properly dispose of your car battery, you’ll reduce waste and create a safe environment for you and everyone else.

However, before you correctly dispose of your old battery, you’ll need to safely remove it from your vehicle:

How To Safely Remove Your Car Battery

If your battery is past its prime, you’ll need to replace it with a new one. But first, here’s how you can safely remove your car battery: 

Once you’ve completed these steps, you can start thinking about getting a new battery.

But before you head to the auto parts store and grab that new battery, how do you safely store the old one?

How To Safely Store Your Car Battery

When you’re done safely removing your old car battery, store it inside two plastic bags or use a heavy-duty material like a closed plastic crate.

Always keep the battery upright and never store or transport it on its side. 

Why?

Some types of batteries have vent caps that can leak sulfuric acid if they aren’t properly stored upright. 

You can safely store lead-acid batteries upright in a plastic bag, but you should consider removing them from your property as soon as possible. And if the lead acid battery has a leak, you’ll need to quickly take it to a battery recycling location.

Now that you know how to safely remove and store your car battery, let’s explore the best places to dispose of or recycle them.

The Best Places To Recycle Or Safely Dispose of Batteries

Let’s take a look at some facilities and websites that can help you with recycling vehicle batteries and hazardous waste.

1. Battery Recycling Facilities

Here are the top battery recycling locations:

A. Battery Recyclers Of America

These battery collectors recycle lead-acid batteries, rechargeable batteries, alkaline single-use batteries, dry cell batteries, and other household batteries. They operate in all 50 US states.

B. Waste Connections

This recycling facility offers an easy way to recycle dry cell batteries, portable electronics, rechargeable batteries, alkaline batteries, and other single use batteries. They have offices across all US states.

C. Waste Management Inc.

This company is an excellent choice for recycling your lead acid battery, household batteries, and consumer electronics. They have offices across all US states – you only need to enter your address to find the nearest recycling location.

D. Original Battery Manufacturer

Another way to dispose of dead batteries would be to take them straight to the nearest battery manufacturer. The battery retailer might also have a ZIP code-based finder for places where you can drop off your old car battery.

2. Website Directories For Recycling

Here are some websites that can help you find local battery recycling centers:

A. RecycleNation

This directory helps you find recycling centers where you can dispose of hazardous waste. It’ll also help you find spots to recycle vehicle batteries, dry-cell batteries, alkaline batteries, and other single use batteries such as the lithium battery.

B. Earth911

Earth911 helps you find the nearest recycling center where you can recycle batteries and discard household hazardous waste. You’ll find places for disposing of your rechargeable batteries and all recyclable batteries that have the universal recycling symbol.

C. RecycleNow

RecycleNow can help you find the nearest recycling center for disposing of recyclable household waste, car batteries, alkaline batteries, dry cell batteries, and various single-use batteries.

D. StopWaste

This site will help you find local recycling centers for disposing of hazardous waste, your vehicle battery, alkaline batteries, and single use batteries like the lithium battery.

Now that you know how and where you can recycle batteries, let’s take a look at some common car battery disposal FAQs.

6 FAQs About Car Battery Disposal

Here are some common car battery disposal questions and their answers:

1. How Do I Know That It’s Time To Replace My Car Battery?

These warning signs can suggest that your car battery needs replacement: 

If you want a comprehensive overview of the symptoms of a failing vehicle battery, then check out our guide on the 10 Signs Of A Dead Car Battery.

2. Why Should I Not Throw My Battery In The Trash Can?

Whether it’s household batteries or auto batteries, improperly disposing of batteries poses a serious risk to the environment and your health. That’s because batteries contain toxic metals and other corrosive materials. 

Batteries have a universal recycling symbol, which indicates that you need to take them to a recycling location instead of discarding them in the dumpster.

When you’re recycling old batteries properly, you’re basically getting rid of hazardous materials that could cause health issues.

3. What Are The Top Reasons For Recycling My Car Battery?

Almost all the toxic materials of a lead acid battery are recyclable. So, recycling these battery components reduces the need to use new raw materials. However, this is just one of the many benefits of why lead batteries are recycled.

Here are two other reasons for recycling batteries:

A. Reduces The Burden On Landfills

Discarding various kinds of batteries, like car lead batteries, button batteries, 9-volt batteries, and other single-use batteries creates hazardous solid waste. If you choose to recycle them instead of dumping them in landfills, you can greatly reduce the amount of waste lying around.  

B. Saves Energy

Recycling old batteries not only reduces waste but also saves tonnes of energy. The recycling process is often more energy-efficient than mining for new heavy metals to create new vehicle batteries from scratch. 

4. What Are The Steps Involved In The Car Battery Recycling Process?

Recycling batteries is an eco-friendly and cost-efficient strategy.

But how are car battery systems recycled?

Let’s take a look at the steps taken when recycling auto batteries:

5. How Are EV Batteries Recycled?

The lithium ion (li ion) battery pack of electric vehicles (EVs) contains critical materials like cobalt and lithium. As electric vehicles gain popularity, the reuse and recycling of lithium ion batteries are becoming increasingly important.

Let’s explore the current processes deployed when recycling electric vehicle batteries.

A. Pyrometallurgy

This technique involves burning an EV lithium ion battery at high temperatures to remove unwanted components. It leaves only a fraction of the original battery pack – usually the copper from the current collector and the nickel or cobalt from the cathode.

A common pyrometallurgical process for producing an electric car battery is smelting. The process recovers cathode metals, like cobalt and nickel, from the lithium ion battery. However, this process loses a lot of aluminum and lithium from the spent battery.

Recycling electric vehicle batteries with this process has several other drawbacks. While recycling EV li ion batteries, the process produces toxic fumes and tonnes of solid waste byproducts.

B. Hydrometallurgy (Chemical Leaching)

This is a chemical process used for recovering the recyclable metal components of a lithium ion battery. A recycling plant conducts this process by soaking (leaching) the electric car battery in strong acids to dissolve the metals.

More battery materials, including lithium, can be recovered from electric car battery packs using this process. 

However, leaching a spent electric car battery can be expensive and complex. When producing lithium-ion batteries, it’s often cheaper to mine new battery material than recover it with leaching. The main advantage of leaching is that it emits little toxic air emissions.

6. What Is The Future Of EV Battery Recycling?

As more electric and hybrid vehicles get on the road, the demand for battery minerals will surge. The rising popularity of these hybrid and electric vehicles will also lead to a pile of spent lithium-ion batteries in the near future.

Battery manufacturing will likely rise, and every battery manufacturer will need to think about how we’ll recycle spent EV batteries. 

On the bright side, we might be seeing a cleaner, direct recycling method in the future. This will involve separating out the cathode material from individual battery cells instead of extracting battery material components from the entire mix.

Such a technique could help battery recyclers recover more materials from a spent battery. However, all this will only be possible through government recycling policies that support electric car battery recycling.

There is currently a lot of research on finding cheap and easy ways to recycle EV li ion batteries. Such initiatives are headed by organizations like the Lithium-ion Car Battery Recycling Advisory Group, the ReCell Center, and the Argonne National Laboratory.

Closing Thoughts

If you don’t dispose of your old battery properly, it could pose serious health and environmental risks. When your vehicle battery is past its prime, quickly take it to a recycling center and get a new battery from an auto parts store.

And if you’re unsure of how to remove your vehicle battery, or suspect it might be dangerous to do so, contact a professional who can check it for you. 

In other words, contact RepairSmith!

RepairSmith’s ASE-certified technicians perform replacements and repairs right in your driveway. All repairs have a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty, and you can easily book your appointments online. 
Simply fill out this form to book your appointment, and our certified technicians will come to your driveway to have your car battery checked!