Disposing of Lithium Ion Batteries

'Tis the season of finding new cell phones, iPads, laptops, tablets, and digital cameras under the Christmas tree. But the big question is, how do you dispose of your old electronics?

​ What Should You Do With Your Old Electronic Devices?

Although some single-use, non-rechargeable, household batteries can be thrown away with your trash, no batteries should ever be tossed in with your single-stream recycling. All types of batteries, lithium or not, pose hazards and risk of fire, but the biggest risk lies with rechargeable batteries.

​ Many rechargeable batteries fall under a specific category of battery known as Lithium Ion, which is the type of battery in your cell phone, laptop, iPad, and other portable electronics. Lithium ion batteries should never be put into a recycling bin, as eventually they end up bouncing around in the back of a recycling truck where the pressure or heat can cause them to spark and catch the surrounding materials on fire. In fact, lithium batteries are one of the leading causes of recycling truck fires. Also, remember that the toxins from the batteries should never go in a landfill.

​ So, now that we know that we shouldn't just throw our old electronics and their batteries into the recycling bin or regular trash, what should we do with them?

  1. The first thing you should do is back up necessary data, then protect your privacy by either performing a factory reset, removing the hard drive or wiping it clean, erasing the memory, removing the SIM card, or whatever is the appropriate action to clear your device of any personal information.
  2. Next, take it to a location to be recycled. This is more convenient than it sounds. Stores such as Target, Home Depot, Staples, Best Buy, Lowes, Whole Foods, and more have free drop off spots to take dead batteries and/or devices off your hands. Check out Earth911.com or Call2Recycle.org where you can choose what type of item you want to recycle and it will give you a list of recycling locations in your area.
  3. Another option is to donate the old equipment to an organization that will refurbish it and redistribute it where it's needed.
  4. Finally, you could list and sell your old electronics on Craiglist or a similar site and make a few bucks.

​ Bottom line, don't put your old electronics in your trash or recycling bin; dispose of them properly for the health of the earth!