May 16, 2023
Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries commonly found in cell phones, laptops, vacuum cleaners, and other electronic devices. Because they can easily plug in to recharge, it makes them an effective solution for the many portable electronic devices we use every day. Despite their benefits, these batteries can be a fire hazard if not handled properly.
Lithium-ion batteries can sometimes overcharge and overheat, which is why it’s advised to unplug devices when fully charged and never charge devices overnight.
When the time comes to discard of a lithium-ion battery, it is very important that residents and businesses dispose of these batteries through acceptable battery recycling programs. Never throw a lithium-ion battery away in the trash!
According to a recent Waste Dive article, there were 390 reported fire incidents at recycling centers across North America in 2022 – the highest reported on record. Here in Atlantic County, ACUA's collection trucks have experienced several fires due to lithium-ion batteries being thrown away in curbside bins.
Firefighters were called to put out a fire caused by a lithium-ion battery from a vacuum cleaner thrown away in curbside trash and picked up by ACUA.
To improve the current system, national industry organizations are working alongside state and federal lawmakers to establish better guidelines and requirements for disposal. At the federal level, they are proposing extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws that will require manufacturers to provide proper collection outlets. This is similar to what is currently done in New Jersey for electronic devices.
The ACUA accepts lithium-ion batteries at its Household Hazardous Waste Drop-offs held throughout the year. There are also many battery drop-offs available at stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Batteries and Bulbs stores. Electronic devices should also never be placed in curbside bins. These items must be taken to certified electronic recyclers.
Standard alkaline manganese batteries typically used in toys, remote controls, flashlights and more are not hazardous and can be placed in your regular trash.
For disposal details, please visit acua.com/batteries and acua.com/electronics.