One of the biggest challenges for many when it comes to battery recycling is doing so safely. This is especially true if you must hold on to the spent batteries for a while until you can schedule a drop-off at the recycler. The following tips will keep you safe so that you can do the environmentally responsible thing with your used batteries.
1. Prevent Short Circuits
Simply tossing all the spent batteries into a box or a bag is a recipe for disaster. Short circuits, sparks, and even fires can start if the terminals come in contact with each other. For safety, you need to place a piece of tape over the terminals of each batter before tossing them in your storage box or container. Make sure that the tape doesn't cover the label of the battery, though. It should only cover the terminals.
2. Be Leak Aware
If a battery begins to swell or leak, it is in danger of bursting. This can release dangerous materials or acid. A bag or even a box won't contain a leak, since the acids in the battery can eat through most materials. If you notice that a battery is swelling, fill a coffee can with sand or cat litter. Bury the battery in the sand or litter, which will safely and effectively absorb any fluids that leak out. Contact your battery recycler or local hazardous waste service to determine the best way to dispose of a leaking battery.
3. Manage Storage Conditions
Hot temperatures can also lead to a burst or leaking battery, so where you store batteries that are awaiting recycling is vitally important. Never leave them outdoors or inside a vehicle where exposure or temperatures could cause damage. It's best to store batteries indoors, preferably in a cool place like a garage or basement. Avoid storing them in areas that receive direct sunlight or where they could be exposed to moisture. Further, make sure the batteries are not stored near food or water sources.
4. Recycle Regularly
It's best to recycle your batteries relatively often. At a bare minimum, do not keep old batteries on hand for more than six months, although ideally, you will drop them off at the recycler more often. Batteries become more prone to leaks as they age. Further, it becomes easier to forget about the batteries, which is a sure recipe for corrosion or leaks.
Contact a battery recycling service in your area for more information on safely recycling your used batteries.