Recycling Lead Acid Battery? How To Dispose Of Batteries (Never Throw Away)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Carbon Offsets Credits | November 7, 2023

Woman looking at various types of batteries and wondering can recycling lead acid battery parts help, and is there a guide for how to dispose of batteries, can you throw away batteries, and what about car battery disposal and alkaline battery disposal, are they different?

You might be surprised to learn that there are a number of options for recycling lead acid battery and battery materials.

Carbon footprint recycling helps avoid the leaking of toxic substances into the air and the environment, and it also applies to lead acid batteries.

In fact, all batteries can be recycled and shouldn’t be thrown away.

There is an entire chain of processes involved when factories recycle lead acid batteries because to ensure safety, they must verify that all the parts are intact.

This complete guide tells you everything you need to know about the recycling lead acid battery process and the importance of not throwing away your old batteries.

What Is a Lead Acid Battery?

The lead acid battery is a vital part of today’s vehicles, nuclear submarines, engines, solar panel energy systems and other electronics.

It is a rechargeable cell that goes through cycles whenever you charge it and use it (discharge it), and the process continues until the end of its service. (When it can no longer hold a charge.)

Graphic illustration showing the dos and don'ts of battery disposal, including lead acid batteries recycling, alkaline and zinc battery disposal options.

Batteries are handy for cars, and if you are keen on your carbon footprint, you can also use them on your electric bike.

For instance, the electric bike kit with battery is more environmentally friendly and powers your E-bike for hours before you need to charge it.

Batteries come in various forms but serve the same purpose, storing power for future use. You can also find them in homes using solar energy, where they hold the excessive charge for service at night or when the sunlight is unreliable.

You can also use batteries on your solar-powered RV, which is convenient on the road. Once you know how to hook up solar panel to RV battery, it becomes easier to harness solar energy.

It also helps to know how solar panels power batteries because you should understand how many to use to effectively power particular batteries. For instance, you can tell what size solar panel to charge 12v battery to know how many sheets you need.

Re e-bike parked on stone tiles.


The constant process gradually reduces their lifespan until when they become unusable. Luckily, more than 99% of these batteries are recyclable and are some of the most frequently recycled items in the United States.1

How Do Lead Acid Batteries Work?

To help you understand how the process works, it helps to know all the internal components first. A standard 12V battery consists of five main parts:

  1. The positive plate, which is enclosed with a lead dioxide paste
  2. Negative sponge lead plate
  3. Separator or insulating material (made of synthetic polyethylene matter)
  4. A mixture of sulfuric acid and water or the liquid electrolyte
  5. Polypropylene container

How To Dispose of Batteries: Simple Ways To Recycle Lead Acid Battery

Knowing where to recycle your batteries can depend on the type of lead acid battery it is.

For example, auto batteries can be recycled in a number of places that deal with automotive issues, including your dealership’s service center.

If you want to recycle your household battery6 for the first time, the following is a guide for the safest methods.

#1 Recycling at Auto Parts Stores

In most cases, the most convenient way to safely dispose of your battery is by dropping it at an auto parts store and letting the staff handle the rest for you.

Some local stores even give you a $10 gift card for every auto battery you hand over for recycling.

There are steps to confirm whether the store can take in your battery. First, contact them to inquire if they can take your type of battery since some may have reservations or guidelines to follow.

It is also crucial to check that your battery is dead by measuring using a multimeter and comparing the readings to a voltage chart. If the store has confirmed they can help, you can detach the battery and take it to them.

#2 Recycling Sealed Batteries at Retail Shops

Besides local auto shops, some large-scale retailers like Home Depot can help recycle lead acid battery for you, especially the 300W hour versions that measure 11 pounds.

Doing this also follows a straightforward process where you first log into Call2Recycle, the national program that lists all the drop-off points in the country.2

Luckily, the site indicates that 86% of people living in North America stay 10 miles from a drop-off spot. After entering your home address, the software should highlight all the places that can accept your batteries within your region.

You can then pick the spot closest to you then find out whether their rules will prevent them from accepting your battery type.

You should see a list pop up when you click the info icon and if the details match your battery’s description, you are free to take it to the location.

#3 Recycling at Recycling Centers

Luckily, there are various recycling entities countrywide that will gladly accept your battery at no extra cost.

You can confirm online by searching the available spots and waiting for the information from the government website that provides the procedure for disposing of the battery.

However, the challenge with this method is that sometimes they will expect you to pay based on the battery’s weight and other related aspects.

Remember that since you are dealing with government offices, you may have to call them first to book an appointment.

#4 Recycling at Paid Recycling Services

If you find issues with the above processes, paying for pick up from your home is the last resort.

Some find it more convenient than searching online and driving to the drop-off point.

Two men carrying a big plastic box full of recyclable materials into a truck.

(Image: Elly Filho12)

Many states, like Delaware, have free resources to help you confirm recycle lead acid battery prices, like Call2Recycle7 or other organizations and check the available options.

Some sell kits or boxes according to your battery’s size, and the larger it is, the higher the cost. You only have to place the batteries inside when you receive the kit, stick the shipping label, and set a pick-up time.

Are Batteries Recyclable? All Batteries?

Thanks to new tech and government intervention, all batteries are recyclable.

Instead of the lead-acid or alkaline batteries ending up in dumpsites, companies are establishing recycling plants to convert the used materials into new products.

A car battery is installed in the engine compartment of a vehicle with visible connectors and a warning label.

(Image: BruceEmmerling13)

Therefore, the poisonous and lethal chemicals inside the batteries cannot affect children and adults living near the landfills.

Overexposure to toxins harms various body systems, and the safest way to go is to recycle them.

Can You Recycle Lead Acid Battery? Can You Recycle Sealed Lead Acid Battery?

Lead acid batteries are some of the highest recycled items in the US, thanks to government directives and push by lobby groups. There are now pick-up points countrywide where you can drop off your battery, after which the various entities will take over and handle the rest.

You can also take it to your local auto shop and ask them to recycle it.

Another effective method involves paying for a kit that allows you to ship your battery to recycling entities. In this case, you pay a fee according to your battery type and size.

How Do Industries Recycle Lead Acid Battery?

The recycling process of batteries is quite complex, and only lead acid battery recycling companies know how to handle the toxic substances and make the parts reusable. Below is a step wise guide and details of how everything works.

  1. Collection of dead batteries: Recyclers pick all the batteries for recycling from the auto stores and retailers who collect them from users.
  2. Shipping to the plants: Next, they take these lead acid batteries to EPA-regulated recycling facilities.
  3. Inspection: The company then inspects these items to ascertain that they are dead recyclable batteries. It is also vital for them to check keenly because they are flammable.
  4. Breaking with a lead acid battery recycling machine: This equipment breaks down the batteries and empties the acid. The components then mix with water where the plastic parts float and the lead sinks, facilitating separation.
  5. Collection of the plastic: They collect the plastic chunks, clean them, then melt them to create the casings for new batteries.
  6. Lead retrieval: The next stage involves draining the liquid to leave behind the lead, where they smelt and refine it, ready for reuse.3
  7. Recycling of the acid: The acid recovered from the solution helps create sodium sulfate, a key ingredient in manufacturing glass and detergent.
  8. Finally, the last step is the creation of a new battery from the old materials. Due to increased awareness of lead acid battery recycling, EPA states that a standard battery usually consists of 80% recycled material.

What Is the Best Car Battery Disposal Method? How To Recycle Lead Acid Battery

Most batteries can live for around five years, after which you have to replace them. All these batteries end up on shelves, and since you have no use for them, the only resort is to dispose of them, but what is the safest way?

Your car battery doesn’t belong in the trash because it will only end up in a landfill and pose a severe danger to the people around it. It is critical to learn about battery recycling, but the most convenient way to get rid of it is to drop it at your local auto shop, and they will pay you for it.

You want to avoid lead and acid being exposed to the environment and endangering your health. The sealed battery is safer to handle, and thanks to favorable government regulations and intervention by environmental bodies, it is easier to dispose of your battery and even get paid.

According to the EPA,9 more than half of the batteries in circulation are from recycled materials, and you can join the movement by handing others yours for recycling.

Can You Throw Away Batteries?

Each battery type is unique. They come in various shapes and designs from various manufacturers.

The ideal disposal method depends on the type because each has different needs.

For instance, it’s permissible to throw the manganese, alkaline, and carbon zinc batteries in your trash, unlike toxic lead acid versions.

A collection of used car batteries piled up, presumably for recycling.

(Image: dengri14)

However, these types of batteries can also be recycled.

On the contrary, you cannot dispose of rechargeable and single use batteries because they contain high levels of toxic chemicals that are harmful when you leave them in the open.

These toxins are lethal when humans contact and inhale them for extended periods and to be safe, it is best to recycle them into new products.

Alkaline Battery Disposal, Is It Possible?

The alkaline or single-use batteries usually end up in the trash after using them on computers, clocks, toys, and other electronics. They come in various forms, and fortunately, they are all recyclable as long as you know where to drop them off.

These cells feature steel frames that are easy to process and manganese, dioxide, zinc anode, and other readily reusable materials. Most people are strict with recycling their car batteries, forgetting that the alkaline versions can also harm the environment.

When you remove your batteries from the device, ensure no leakages or tampering; otherwise, recycling companies will turn it down. Also, ensure that the active ends don’t contact each other and store them in a cool, dry place to avoid overheating, which can spark a fire.

UPS Battery Recycling

A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Source) is a reliable alternative power source during inefficiencies or power failure. It is a backup when the voltage levels drop, or there are unexpected issues with the main power.

They are essential in providing high-quality power to various appliances, and the best part is that they are also recyclable.

It is easy to hand them over to a company that can recycle them safely, helping you dispose of your UPS.

Why Recycling Lead Acid Batteries Is Important

The carbon footprint of lithium-ion battery production comes from the manufacture of batteries and the mining of raw materials. This process makes up almost 85% of the world’s lead metal demand but the silver lining is that most products come from recycled materials.4

Battery recycling guards the environment by preventing air, soil, and water pollution. Otherwise, the release of these toxins is harmful to the health of the people living around the dump sites, but luckily, recycling avoids overexposure.

The toxins that lead emits affect the reproductive and cardiovascular systems and other organs. It is also particularly deadly to infants and toddlers since they are likely to directly ingest it when playing.

Overexposure to this metal and chemicals are also responsible for many deaths and disabilities among people living near landfills and plants.

Thanks to these efforts, they don’t end up in landfills, don’t contaminate the water and soil, or emit lethal gasses into the air. They cannot cause poisoning to adults or infants,8 and manufacturers don’t have to mine for raw materials to create new batteries, which reduces the carbon footprint from manufacturing.

Impact of Recycling of Lead Acid Batteries

About 85% of mined lead goes to battery manufacture, particularly automobiles. After years of use, most of these components undergo recycling to create new batteries.

It is a profitable business for manufacturers, explaining why more people want to cash in, ignoring the laid-down regulations.5

More backyard smelters are joining the industry, gathering used lead acid batteries to recycle them into new products, but this has dire consequences for the environment and the people. While lead-acid battery recycling environmental impact is usually positive, it can turn lethal when there are no regulations.

Unscrupulous business people dump unused parts in landfills, leading to exposure to toxic chemicals. It can be fatal, especially to children who ingest contaminated water and dust.

On the other hand, if handled correctly, recycling lead-acid batteries benefits the environment. No more landfills full of toxic chemicals, no water and soil contamination, and no health risks due to overexposure.

How Long Does a Lead Acid Battery Last?

Your lead acid battery lifespan depends on several factors, but generally, most last 3-5 years before you have to replace them. Several factors can influence its lifespan, including its design, how well you care for it, and its total cycles.

Based on their manufacturing process, some batteries can reach an impressive 12 years.

Unfortunately, more than 50% of these batteries only live half their expected lifespans due to poor handling and low maintenance, and it is common for a cell to die in only 18 months.

You can improve your battery’s life and increase its cycles by cleaning it, securing the caps, tightening the connections, fully charging it before storage, and storing it in a cool, dry place.

Proper maintenance, monitoring, and management significantly improve its service life and overall performance.

What if the Batteries Are Too Old?

You can always find a way to recycle old batteries you have stacked in your garage for a long time.

You may wonder what to do with old batteries, but as long as they are intact and without leaks, they are perfect for recycling, and there are various ways to go about it.

An old battery that has corrosion.

(Image: MarkBuckawicki15)

You can ship them to recyclers, take them to your auto-spares shop, or search online for pick-up points in your city. The companies will gladly take them off your hands and safely dispose of them for you, with some offering a token in exchange.

Thanks to battery recycling,10 companies can create new products from existing ones, reducing the pressure on raw materials. The need to mine for lead reduces, and the best part is that it is kinder to the environment; no more contamination of water, soil, and air.

When you throw away used batteries in the trash, their last destination is landfills, meaning the toxins release into the air. If you want to keep the environment clean and people safe, the best way to go is to recycle.

If you recycle lead acid battery, you will reduce the carbon footprint from the manufacture of new batteries and save the environment and people from the devastating effects of exposure to the metal.


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3Eco Batt. (2019, March 12). How to recycle a lead-acid battery. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from Eco Batt: <>

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