Small batteries or button cells power our remote controls, watches and medical devices like hearing aids. But knowing how to recycle them is not easy. The rules are constantly changing and the advice is different depending on where you live. To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a list of companies that offer mail-in recycling programs for recycling household batteries and hearing aid batteries.
But first, a bit about why battery recycling is such a challenge.
This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item through one of these links, we receive a small commission which helps fund our recycling directory.
Why is recycling small household batteries and hearing aids so confusing?
Some recycling programs may tell you that alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, 9 volt, C and D) are suitable for your trash can because they no longer contain mercury. But waste management providers, like Republic Servicessay to never put the batteries in your trash or curbside recycling.
Batteries pose a fire hazard in garbage cans because their residual energy can cause sparks. And in some states, it’s illegal to throw batteries in the trash. Some have laws requiring battery manufacturers to support recycling programs. This card by Call2Recycle shows which states regulate battery recycling and their rules.
No wonder the proper disposal of household batteries is so confusing.
There are many types of household batteries and they contain varying amounts of chemicals and heavy metals. Some contain precious metals that can be recovered and reused, further reducing emissions and the environmental impact of mining. All batteries contain chemicals that can be harmful, some more than others. None of these are good for the environment.
Conclusion: We must always dispose of batteries properly. Follow the recycler’s instructions on how they wish to receive the batteries, including putting tape over the battery terminals. certain types of battery.
Go rechargeable – a more planet-friendly alternative to disposable batteries
The first step to reducing battery waste is to switch to the rechargeable battery. In the long run, using them for your home and medical devices is much cheaper for you and the environment. Rechargeable batteries are available for any type of small device, including medical devices. When it comes to batteries for hearing aidsone charge lasts much longer than a disposable battery.
Once your rechargeable or disposable batteries no longer work, it is important to recycle them. Using a reputable recycler is the best way to know that your dead batteries are being disposed of properly, not harming the environment, and materials that can be recycled are captured. The Earth911 recycling finder can help you find a battery drop-off location near you (just enter your postcode). Read on to learn more about mail-in recycling options.
Mail-in programs for household batteries and small cell batteries
Mail-in battery recycling programs will charge a fee. There are several reasons for this. Part of the cost is the materials they provide to you to safely store and ship the batteries when your container is full. Other costs are related to container and shipping compliance with federal hazardous materials regulations to prevent contamination and fires. The program must provide detailed return instructions and the cost must include return shipping charges.
Hearing aid batteries are small, but because you use them regularly, they can build up. You may be able to send them back to the manufacturer. Before paying for a mail-in program, check your battery packaging. The manufacturer may have a recycling program or information on how to recycle their products. You can also ask your hearing care professional if they know the best way to recycle the types of batteries you use in your device.
The mail-out programs we found generally accept the most common types of rechargeable batteries and some disposable items, such as hearing aid batteries.
Mail-in battery recycling programs
The materials used to make batteries, whether disposable or rechargeable, can be reused. But different types of batteries require different processes to recycle them. It depends on the chemicals and metals they contain. So each program will be a little different in what it accepts, depending on its process.
- Call2Recycle offers post boxes for batteries and cell phones for purchase. When the box is full, just send it back. They accept different sizes of household batteries, as well as cell phones. They do not accept single-use alkaline batteries. Their little boxes start to $45 and maintain between 20 and 25 pounds. Their largest size contains 40-50 pounds. They also offer larger sizes for professional and commercial use.
- Big green box has a similar program where you buy the box and the price includes return postage. Their programs begin with a mini for $36 which can hold up to 10 lbs. They take disposable alkaline batteries and many other household types. To verify their list for batteries you commonly use and need to recycle.
- Batteries offers iRecycle Kits which start at $59.95 for 10-pound buckets with sizes up to 55 pounds. They also offer big tube solutions that work in offices and drums for big jobs. Their program accepts single-use alkaline and household batteries as well as small electronics, including cell phones, tablets, and headphones.
- Lamp Master Mailback Recycling offers high volume recycling with their Dry Battery Recycling Kit which starts at 1 gallon for $84.95. They also offer 2.5 and 5 gallon dry cell battery recycling kits, as well as button cell battery kits to recycle the batteries that power small devices like hearing aids.
Not all mail-in programs accept single-use alkaline batteries. Be sure to read their list of acceptable materials. Rechargeable batteries are easier for manufacturers to recycle and reuse materials, so they are more commonly accepted.
Have a plan for what you will do with used batteries
You may have other options for recycling your batteries besides paid mail-in programs. Your community may offer battery recycling opportunities, perhaps at e-waste events. Most office supply and electronics retailers offer battery recycling, but they may be limited to rechargeable batteries. Use the Earth911 recycling search to locate drop off locations near you.
Also keep an eye out for community-specific recycling efforts such as RecycleMyBattery drop boxes or subscription recycling services such as Ridwell (currently in service Seattle, Portland, Denver, Twin Cities and Austin areas) who will pick up your hard-to-recycle items, including batteries.
Whether you use disposable or rechargeable batteries, make sure you have a plan for recycling used batteries when they no longer hold a charge. Have a designated container to collect them from and do your research ahead of time so you know where to send or drop off the batteries when your container is full. Having a plan and organizing old batteries will save you from defaulting to throwing out the trash when you don’t have time to figure out where else to put them.