Recycling Lithium-ion Batteries: How to Dispose Your Lithium-ion Batteries

Updated September 2018

Did you know that cell phones, laptops, and power tools contain lithium-ion batteries? With the growth of electronic devices, these rechargeable batteries are now a staple in our society.
Lithium-Ion Battery

Of the many types of rechargeable batteries, lithium-ion batteries are the most popular because they provide more energy than other types of rechargeable batteries. They also hold their charge much better than older battery types, like nickel-metal hydride. Because of their convenience and charging power, it looks like lithium rechargeable batteries are here to stay!

So how are you supposed to dispose lithium-ion batteries once you’re done with them?

Can I Throw Away Lithium-ion Batteries?

While you can throw single use, non-rechargeable batteries in the trash, keep lithium-ion batteries out. These batteries contain toxic materials that are hazardous to our health and the environment if left in a landfill. When you want to dispose your lithium-ion batteries, you need to take them to a trusted recycling center.

Can Lithium-ion Batteries be Recycled?

Yes, but not in your regular blue recycling bin. The contents of lithium-ion batteries are less toxic than most other battery types, which makes them easier to recycle. But, lithium is a highly reactive element. These batteries have a flammable electrolyte and pressurized contents that could lead them bursting into flames.

It’s especially risky when lithium-ion batteries end up in the back of a dry recycling truck surrounded by paper and cardboard. Pressure or heat, especially during the summer, could cause them to spark, starting a fire. In fact, lithium-ion batteries are one of the most common fire starters in recycling trucks!

Lithium-ion batteries in laptop, cell phone, and camera

How to Recycle Batteries?

The best way to recycle lithium-ion batteries is to take your old cell phones, tablets, and computers to a recycling center. They’ll know how to recycle batteries of all shapes and sizes while doing what’s right for the environment.

Stop by GreenCitizen’s Burlingame EcoCenter for your electronics recycling in San Francisco. We can recycle all rechargeable battery types for free. For businesses, we offer a hassle-free pickup program for unwanted electronics.

For the rest of the United States, visit Call2Recycle to find battery recycling drop-off centers near you.

If you want more information on lithium-ion battery recycling, give us a call at (650) 493-8700. We thank you for doing your part for the environment!


10 Comments on “Recycling Lithium-ion Batteries: How to Dispose Your Lithium-ion Batteries

  1. Thanks for writing this helpful, informative article. I think it’s important that we know where and when to recycle our batteries safely. My husband and I like to lessen our environmental imprint as much as possible, so your article was a great read for us! Do you know if there are companies that pay you to recycle?

  2. I fly electric radio control planes. therefore I have a few Lipo batteries. We were told to recycle them by cutting of the leads and placing the battery in a salt solution for a week, then they can be placed in the landfill.

  3. Wow, that sounds dangerous that computer batteries could ruin 3 olympic pools worth of water. That must make it really important to dispose of them properly. I usually just hang onto my batteries, but they’re taking up space. I’ll have to find a firm that can dispose of them.

  4. Does this program sell used laptop batteries in bulk by the pound ? And if so I would be interested in purchasing a large quantity

  5. Does your company sell used laptop or other lithium ion batteries that contain 18650 cells .

  6. Interested to know what companies you feel are getting close to having a viable process for recycling LIB’s? Personally, I have written to and talked to many. Most will not respond at all let alone answer very basic questions with regards to their process, progress and results. I hear and see a lot of talk, claims, diagrams and charts. One thing I have learned over the years is “talk is cheap and silence is loud”.
    I have only found one company claiming recovery rates of nearly 100% of the cathode materials. Even without the use of heat. The results have been verified by an arms length company whom I have also spoken. I personally find it very revealing that it is the only company that I can find that has actually filed patents and have patents pending on their process. A wise investor would find that company sooner rather than later! As I said earlier, “talk is cheap, silence is loud”.


  7. these are lithium polymer batteries, a bit different to lithium ion noted here . . . . . .

  8. A lot of electronics stores will recycle them for you, keeping them out of the landfill, and allowing the lithium to be reused.

  9. is there any scope of reusing this lithium ion battery which is used for vehicles?

  10. Really insightful stuff here, I like how you talk about electronic recycling. A local company does a great job determining what to do with e waste.

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