How To Recycle UPS Batteries?

Global UPS battery market was valued at $700 million in 2020 and is expected to reach $1.47 billion by 2028. This equates to millions of UPS batteries in circulation.

Here’s a complete guide on how and where you can recycle UPS batteries.


Why Should You Recycle UPS Batteries?

UPS batteries contain lithium, which is a highly reactive element. If the battery is exposed to increased heat or electric discharge, it can burst into flames. Moreover, stockpiling UPS batteries is a risk to the environment.

Here are all the environmental reasons for UPS battery recycling:

Leaf Check mark

Heavy metals are an environmental hazard - A UPS battery leaks environmental contaminants, such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese, when broken down. These batteries can start a fire that will burn for a long period in the landfill and contaminate other trash with toxic chemicals.

Leaf Check mark

Toxic to humans - Damaged UPS batteries can release harmful PM10 and PM2.5 particles. These particles contain arsenic, cobalt, cadmium, copper, and lead. If these enter our respiratory systems, they can cause cardiovascular, respiratory, and endocrine system issues and cancer.

Leaf Check mark

Fire hazard - Li-ion UPS batteries can have a thermal runoff, which is an issue where the battery self-heats, bulges, and explodes. If a charged battery is crushed or pierced, it’ll short-circuit and combust. This is one of the biggest challenges of Li-ion batteries.

Leaf Check mark

Groundwater contamination - Rainwater seeps through the waste and transports hazardous chemicals and organisms over large distances, contaminating solids and groundwater. Li-ion UPS batteries can have pollutants, such as heavy metals, which change groundwater properties and impact plants and animals.

Here are all the financial reasons for ups battery recycling:

Leaf Check mark

Recover valuable resources and earn money - Batteries contain lead, nickel, silver, and other valuable metals. Some recyclers will even pay you for each pound of lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries you recycle.

Leaf Check mark

Lower disposal costs - Most states nowadays have laws and regulations for the disposal of toxic waste, which can be costly for a business. You’ll pay less for waste disposal by recycling.

Leaf Check mark

Avoid fines - Lead-acid, Li-ion, and Ni-Cad batteries must be recycled by law. Plus, different states have different battery disposal regulations. If you violate these, you risk paying high fines.

What Materials Can You Retrieve From UPS Batteries?

Lithium-Ion UPS Battery Materials

Lithium-ion UPS batteries consist of a metallic lithium anode and a sulfur cathode. Other materials used in the cathode in li-ion UPS batteries are lithium-metal oxides, olivines, vanadium oxides, and rechargeable lithium oxides. Materials used in the anode are graphite, silicon, or intermetallics.

The space between the cathode and anode has electrolytes. The electrolytes are polymer, liquid, or solid.

Depending on the technology the recycler uses, they can cathode and anode materials, such as lithium, cobalt, manganese, and nickel.

Lead Acid UPS Battery

The material composition of a lead acid battery in percentages is:

  • 35% Lead oxides
  • 25% Lead
  • 16% Water
  • 10% Polypropylene
  • 10% Sulfuric acid
  • 2% Glass
  • 1% Antimony

Recyclers crush these batteries into nickel-sized pieces and separate the plastic from the internal components. The plastic is reprocessed into new plastic products, and lead and other metals are given to battery manufacturers to reuse.

Usually, a new lead-acid battery contains 60% to 80% recycled lead and plastic.

How to Recycle UPS Batteries?

E-Waste Recyclers UPS Battery

E-Waste Recycler

E-waste recyclers use energy-demanding processes called pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. Pyrometallurgy uses high-temperature processes that burn and separate battery components, for example, copper, iron, and nickel. Hydrometallurgy recovers the metals by treating the cathode with an acidic or a basic solution.

Municipal Office

Municipal Waste Management

Most municipal waste programs don’t accept lead-acid batteries for recycling because they are dangerous waste. Each state has laws for disposing of UPS batteries, and most don’t allow the batteries to be disposed of in landfills or with other municipal waste disposal processes. You need to find a facility that can properly recycle them, such as hazardous waste collection facilities.

UPS Battery Manufacturer

Manufacturer/Seller Takeback Programs

Another option to recycle the UPS battery is to take the battery to the manufacturer or seller. Several national chains also accept UPS batteries for recycling, such as, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, Ikea, and Lowe’s.

Where to Recycle iPads and Tablets?

Drop-off Recycling (For Individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area) 

SF Bay Area residents are welcome to bring their UPS batteries to our Burlingame EcoCenter. Our address is — 1831 Bayshore HWY, Suite 2, Burlingame, CA 94010, USA.

You can check if the item you want recycled falls into the free or paid category (we recycle UPS batteries for free). The employee at our center will accept and weigh your e-waste, and you can pay using a contactless chip reader.

Business Recycling Pickup (For Businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area)

If you’re a business in the SF Bay Area and have a large number of batteries to dispose of, you can schedule a collection by contacting our recycling center. You can contact our Business Pickup Service and schedule a pickup, which is especially handy if you have large battery packs.

Make sure to:

  • Place batteries in an empty room or a loading dock
  • Don’t use paper wraps or packing peanuts because it’s a fire risk
  • Take a photo of the items you want recycled and email it to us
  • Our pickup crew will load your batteries
  • You’ll get a notification your batteries have been recycled

Mail-in Recycling (US-Wide Service)

If you don’t live in the SF Bay Area, you can mail in your UPS batteries. All you need to do is choose the shipping company you prefer and send us your batteries, and we’ll send you a notification when we receive them. 

Note: If possible, send the UPS battery in its original packaging. If you no longer have it, have a FedEx or UPS professional package the battery for you to make sure it arrives safely.

Green Directory (US-Wide Service)

Not all recycling centers accept UPS batteries. Luckily, you can use our Green Directory as a one-stop service for finding recycling centers all over the US. 

Here’s what to do:

  • Enter UPS batteries in the search for bar
  • Put in your zip-code
  • Hit search

You’ll get a list of all recycling businesses that accept UPS batteries in your area. You can even decide how close you want them to your location by limiting the search to 5, 10, 25, 50, or 100 miles.

DISCLOSURE *: GreenCitizen is passionate about making every day Earth Day for the people and businesses we serve. We introduce only those green products and services that we believe can help our customers reduce waste and environmental damage.
 We participate in Amazon Associates and other affiliate programs that earn us fees when site visitors follow certain links. We’re committed to using all such revenues to increase our efforts toward making every day Earth Day.