Battery Disposal Guidelines

Lead, mercury and cadmium found in some batteries can harm the environment if not disposed of correctly. Recycling or proper disposal of batteries can prevent these dangerous elements from entering the environment. Rechargeable batteries can be particularly harmful to the environment and should be recycled by being taken to your local Transfer Station.

The way you dispose of your batteries will depend on the type of battery you are using. There are some simple things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of batteries.

Use rechargeable batteries rather than single-use disposable batteries whenever possible. This reduces waste, saves energy, and over time will cost you less. Note that some rechargeable batteries are not suitable for some applications such as smoke alarms and emergency torches.

If you have to use disposable batteries, choose long-life brands. Plug appliances into the mains power supply as often as you can to extend the life of your battery.

Consider choosing products powered by alternative energy sources, such as solar-powered calculators or kinetic powered torches.

If your workplace uses significant volumes of batteries, check the Yellow Pages for specialist companies who can provide safe recycling and disposal services. Additional options for disposing of batteries are also available from Nelson Environment nec.org.nz/e-waste

Lead acid batteries

Type of battery

Common uses

Hazardous component

Disposal options

Lead acid batteries*

Electrical energy supply for vehicles including cars, trucks, boats, tractors and motorcycles. Small sealed lead acid batteries are used for emergency lighting and uninterruptible power supplies

Sulphuric acid and lead

All the materials in lead acid batteries have a high environmental impact if disposed of improperly, and the lead is a valuable recoverable resource.

These batteries should be recycled. Most petrol stations and garages accept old car batteries or take to your local Transfer Station.

Disposable batteries

Type of battery

Common uses

Hazardous component

Disposal options

Zinc carbon

Torches, clocks, shavers, radios, toys and smoke alarms

Zinc

Not classed as a hazardous waste – okay to dispose of with household waste.

Zinc chloride

Similar to above

Zinc

Alkaline manganese

Toys, calculators and other portable devices

Manganese (note some older alkaline batteries contain mercury*)

Mercuric oxide*

Hearing aids, pacemakers and cameras

Mercury

Preference is to recycle. Potentially hazardous waste and should be taken to you local Transfer Station.

Zinc air

Hearing aids, pagers and cameras

Zinc

Silver oxide

Calculators, watches and cameras

Silver

Lithium

Computers, watches and cameras

Lithium (explosive and flammable)

Rechargeable batteries

Type of battery

Common uses

Hazardous component

Disposal options

Nickel cadmium (NiCd)*

Mobile phones, cordless power tools, laptop computers, shavers, motorised toys, and personal stereos

Cadmium

Preference is to recycle. Potentially hazardous waste and should be taken to you local Transfer Station.

Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH)

Alternative to above. Longer life than NiCd batteries

Nickel

Mobile phone batteries can be recycled through the network provider's in-store collection schemes or through the post in special charity postage envelopes.

Lithium ion (Li-ion)

As above. Greater energy storage capacity than NiCd or NiMH

Lithium

This type of battery is potentially hazardous waste and should be taken to your local transfer station.