Hazards

  • Batteries burned in waste combustion facilities can release mercury or cadmium to the air and water, ultimately entering the food chain and posing health threats to people and the environment.

Description Of Battery Categories

  • Alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D and 9 volt). Since 1994, most types contain no added mercury, and only contain trace amounts that are not hazardous. These batteries are marked "no added mercury" or have a green tree logo.
  • Nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries (NiCads) exist in many sizes and shapes and are marked RECHARGEABLE. Some may be built into rechargeable appliances. NiCads contain cadmium, a metal that is toxic to humans when inhaled or ingested.
  • Button batteries (small, round, silver-colored, used in watches and hearing aids): Many button batteries contain mercury, a metal that is toxic to humans when inhaled or ingested.
  • Lithium batteries (AA, C, 9 volt and button; mainly used in computers and cameras). Lithium is reactive with water, and has caused serious fires.

Handling

  • Store in a secure, dry place out of the reach of children and pets. Button batteries can be swallowed because they are small and slippery.
  • When storing rechargeable batteries for collection, keep in a vented, non-metal container. Rechargeable batteries should be placed individually in plastic bags before being stored together with other rechargeables.

Management Options

  • Alkaline batteries: Domestically manufactured batteries made after 1994 no longer contain mercury and can be disposed of in the trash.
  • Nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries: Do NOT dispose of in the trash. Take to a retail collection location or a municipal recycling center that accepts rechargeable batteries. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) operates a collection program through selected retail stores and municipal recycling programs. There are currently over 400 collection sites in Massachusetts that are free to residents. Call 800-8-BATTERY for the nearest retail collection location
  • Button batteries: Do NOT dispose of in the trash. Many stores selling watches or hearing aids will accept spent button batteries. If your trash is handled by a waste-to-energy facility, find out if they have a mercury waste collection program; or hold for HHW collection.
  • Lithium batteries: Hold for household hazardous waste collection day.
  • A state contract for recycling is available for municipalities and public sector agencies, titled FAC53. For a copy of the award notice, see: Comm-PASS - The Commonwealth's Procurement Access & Solicitation System
    (If you are not familiar with how the system works, visit the Comm-PASS Resource Center.)