Disposing batteries

There are many different types of batteries out there – some that can be disposed of in household waste like AA and AAA batteries and some that can’t. Regardless of disposability it is best to recycle your batteries.AA Batteries

It is estimated that over 50 million batteries are consumed in South Africa annually, 90% of which, are ordinary batteries, which are used once and then discarded into household refuse. The average South African uses 6 battery-operated products in their day-to-day lives. These devices range from TV Remotes to Clocks to kids toys.

When it’s time to replace these batteries, the old ones are being discarded into our general household refuse. This equates to approximately 2500 tons worth of hazardous battery waste being disposed into landfills each year and growing. These discarded batteries eventually degrade and corrode, leaking their toxic chemicals into our earth & groundwater. We live on a planet with limited resources and limited space.

You have a couple of options when it comes to recycling batteries, of any type, making recycling much easier for you. Your used batteries can be dropped off any of the following recycle points:

  • Pick n Pay
  • Battery Centre
  • Woolworths

Or use My Waste to find your nearest recycling drop off point

The Dos and Don’ts of battery disposal


  • Find a recycling or collection service, or get in touch with your local council to find out more
  • Check with local electronics or hardware retailers.
  • Donate or recycle lithium-ion batteries.
  • Take rechargeable batteries to a recycling facility.
  • Dispose of car batteries at an auto parts retailer or hazardous waste collection site.
  • Throw away or recycle alkaline batteries.
  • Dispose of button batteries at a hazardous waste collection site or recycling facility.
  • Keep your batteries in a cool, dry place.
  • Find recycling facilities in your region.
  • Check your local government website for battery disposal guidelines.
  • Store your dead batteries away from children and pets.
  • Tape the terminals of your batteries.
  • Store used batteries in a cardboard or plastic container.
  • Try and opt for recycling, even if the battery is suitable for household waste.

Scrap batteries are recycled at First National Battery’s recycling plant, which is based in Benoni, and the majority of the components are processed to the point that they can be used to manufacture new automotive batteries. This is the process whereby they collect and recycle batteries:

First National Battery Battery-Recycling-Process1

This image comes from Battery Centre

For more information on how car batteries are recyled visit the First National Battery website.


  • Dispose of large amounts of alkaline batteries in household waste in one go
  • Dispose of rechargeable batteries like the ones found in cameras, phones, laptops in household waste
  • Leave batteries in your device if you suspect it will not be used for several months.
  • Carry batteries loose in your pocket or purse as they may create a safety risk.
  • Mix old and new batteries, batteries of different brands, or batteries of different types in the same device as this may cause the batteries to leak.
  • Attempt to recharge non-rechargeable batteries. This can cause your batteries to overheat or leak.
  • Place your batteries in a refrigerator.
  • Dispose of large numbers of batteries at one time.
  • Put batteries or battery-powered devices in very warm places.
  • Remove the battery label, or attempt to take the battery apart, or dispose of in a fire as this may lead to rupture and/or chemical burns.

Why you need to dispose of your batteries properly

Whilst you may not think that throwing that battery in the bin will do much, think about how many people have that same mindset. This attitude could have a serious ecological and economic impact.

laptop batteryBatteries are made from both important resources and harmful chemicals – two things that shouldn’t just be sent to a landfill site and go to waste. When batteries are properly disposed of, each battery will be taken apart so certain materials can be recovered and re-used to make new batteries or something else.

In a landfill, the heavy metals and chemicals found in batteries (including lead, cadmium, zinc, lithium and mercury) run the risk of leaking into the ground if the battery’s casing corrodes. This could cause soil and water pollution, as well as potentially endanger wildlife.

It’s good for the environment to recycle, not only because it reduces this risk of pollution but also because it reduces the need to produce more raw materials. By re-using used materials and chemicals, we save on precious energy that we can save or use on other more necessary things.

How your batteries are recycled

When you recycle your batteries, through either a recycling centre or a collection service, they will be picked up and sorted. With different types of batteries, there are different chemicals – which means that they need to be divided and managed in different ways. All batteries, however, will be re-made with the same purpose: with their useful, original material recovered and re-used to make new products.



By Kezia Futter