dont dump. divert
batteries stood up.

Batteries form an ongoing element of our rubbish removal requirements. They’re found in almost every room of our homes and businesses, an essential part of our lives that power many devices. Once they run out of juice, responsible battery disposal avoids their hazardous elements negatively affecting the environment or human health.

Disposing of batteries properly is important whether you’re getting rid of the classic AA batteries or one from a laptop, mobile phone, or even your car. You can’t just throw them away in your general waste or household recycling bin though. Find out how to dispose of batteries in this guide.

Battery Disposal

no hidden charges

Get a quick quote

Get a quick FREE quote for your waste

  • Quick quote within 1 hr
  • All types of waste
  • Claim your free bins
  • Nationwide coverage

When were batteries invented?

The first battery was created by Alessandro Volta in 1798. The word battery may have origins in even more ancient history and was first used by Ben Franklin to describe Leyden Jars – power sources of his time. Franklin chose the word to echo the sense of multiple components working together – like the battery of a battlefield.

The real change came about in 1802 when William Cruickshank invented a method of mass production, which meant batteries were available to the public for general use. Since then the concept of a portable power pack has led to the invention of many other items.

For example, Conrad Hubert, of EverReady battery fame, invented the torch, after EverReady introduced the D-size battery.

Fast free quote
Free bins
Low cost collection

Recycling batteries 

The innate usefulness of the battery means there are an awful lot of them around. In the UK alone, every person uses around ten batteries each year. It’s estimated that more than 600 million batteries are thrown away annually, so recycling is important to protect the planet.

battery recycling

Why is battery recycling important?

Recycling batteries is important to ensure their waste is managed safely. Improper disposal could mean the toxic materials that batteries contain enter the environment. This puts wildlife and human health at risk as these hazardous materials leach into soil and water supplies. We also need to reduce carbon emissions to avoid the destruction of the planet. Part of this is achieved by recycling batteries.

Here are a few facts about battery waste recycling and disposal in the UK:

  • 40,000 tons of batteries were sold in 2020
  • 18,000 tons of batteries were recycled
  • The remaining 22,000 went to landfill
Guide to e-waste recycling
price match guarantee

14 day price match guarantee

Partner with peace of mind

What happens to batteries in landfill? 

The first thing to know is that batteries contain several chemicals, including lead, cadmium, zinc, lithium, and mercury. As batteries begin to break down, these chemicals are leached out into the earth, which will pollute the soil that grows our food, and the waterways that feed animals, plants, and birdlife. Throwing batteries into landfill poisons the earth.

It can take more than 100 years for batteries to decompose in landfill as well. This contributes to methane emissions produced by landfill sites, which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Batteries should never go to landfill due to the harm they can cause to the environment.

What happens when we recycle batteries?

Recycling batteries means they can be made into something new. Here are some examples of how batteries are recycled:

  • Iron in all battery types can be recovered and refashioned into new items
  • Manganese oxide can be processed to recover the zinc oxide, for use in plastics and ceramics
  • Cadmium is reused to make new batteries
  • Nickel is reused to make steel
  • Cobalt and copper can be recovered from lithium batteries and reused in several ways
  • Mercury can be recovered and decontaminated to make steel

Recycling batteries means we can reduce the amount of metal and mineral extraction required, further reducing the damage we do to the earth.

How do you recycle batteries? 

In 2010, new laws came into place that meant many businesses (retail shops and supermarkets) began to offer a battery recycling service. In addition to these businesses, many town halls, schools, libraries community centres have set up battery collection and recycling schemes. People can drop off domestic batteries at these points.

Many local authorities also offer battery recycling. You can find out where to recycle batteries in your area by typing your postcode into the Recycling Locator. It’s important to dispose of batteries with care. If you’re recycling a lithium or button battery, it’s essential that you tape up the terminal to minimise the risk of fire.

What are the alternatives to using batteries? 

It’s possible to make a battery out of a potato, but you’ll find the power supply somewhat limited. One of the best things you can do to reduce battery waste is to make the switch to rechargeable batteries. These create less waste as you reuse the same battery time and again.

The first rechargeable battery was invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Plante. Plante created the lead-acid cell (still used in cars to this day) which led to the invention of the NiMH and NiCD batteries as well as lithium-ion batteries, all of which can be recharged.

Arrange WEEE collection
no hidden charges

Free duty of care

We pride ourselves on being open and transparent.

Are rechargeable batteries really better? 

As with anything, it really depends on the use and circumstances. Things like the amount of energy draw and frequency of charge need to be weighed up. Having said that, there are many household items, especially things like radios or lights, which use up a lot of battery energy.

When we consider that a rechargeable battery can hold up to 800 charging cycles, then it’s easy to see how this option can reduce waste. And when they do reach the end of their life, rechargeables can be recycled in the same way as regular batteries.

save 30% on current costs

Get your waste collected

Get a quick FREE quote for your waste

  • Quick quote within 1 hr
  • All types of waste
  • Claim your free bins
  • Nationwide coverage