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What to do with Used Lithium-Ion Batteries

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 10/13/2022

recycling used lithium-ion batteries

So many of us today have old lithium batteries lying around whether from old laptops, cameras or cell phones. What do we do with all of these old batteries? Can they just be thrown out, or do they require special recycling? Read on to learn more about what can be done with old batteries and how Batteries Plus can help you get a handle on recycling all of your old batteries.

What Are Lithium Ion Batteries?

Lithium-Ion batteries are advanced in technology and use lithium as the key component of their electrochemistry rather than lead, or nickel like many other common batteries. Lithium has the highest energy density of any battery to date and will produce energy roughly 3 times higher than the same size and weight Nickel-cadmium or Nickel metal hydride batteries.

Due to the advanced technology behind lithium batteries which makes them significantly smaller and lighter they can be used in many applications.

What are Lithium-Ion Batteries Used In?

Lithium-ion batteries are used in many common household applications and there is a good chance that you have one in your home without even knowing it. There are also two types of lithium batteries to look out for.

Single-use, non-rechargeable

These are non-rechargeable, common batteries used in everyday household electronics and smoke detectors.

  • Lithium AA
  • Lithium AAA
  • Lithium 9V
  • Other non-rechargeable lithium batteries


These batteries are found in many devices that you have in your home and must be recharged after the battery is depleted and commonly seen in most electronics.

  • Cell phones
  • Bluetooth speakers and headphones
  • Cameras
  • Computer mice
  • eReaders
  • Game controllers
  • Laptops
  • Smartwatches
  • and more

What Happens When I Throw Lithium Batteries in the Trash?

Disposing of lithium batteries can have a number of negative consequences for people and the environment. Lithium batteries should never be disposed of in household trash.

Health and Environment

Lithium batteries that sit in a landfill and start to break down toxic metals like cobalt, nickel and manganese can leach into the ground and water supplies wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. Not to mention if a human somehow comes in contact with lithium there can be some serious side effects including headache, blurred vision, confusion, muscle weakness, twitching, loss of coordination, tremors, seizures and coma.


The materials used to produce lithium-ion batteries are very combustible. Improper disposal could lead to lithium batteries being damaged and the flammable materials and gasses escaping the confinement of the battery case. That causes a dangerous situation as those gasses and materials could easily ignite causing a catastrophic fire situation in the highly flammable landfill, endangering anyone near the landfill.

For more information on lithium batteries and proper disposal methods please visit the Environment Protection Agency   website for great information on used lithium-ion batteries.

Why is it Important to Recycle Lithium?

If the reasons above aren't enough to shock you into not throwing out lithium batteries, there's one more massive reason why recycling lithium batteries is so important; mining valuable natural resources.

Lithium is mined from the earth and while we should be concerned about using up the earth's natural resources we also need to be aware of the negative effects that mining these resources has on the environment.

Lithium mining has many effects on the environment included, but not limited to:

  • Pollutes water sources
  • Creates unsustainable water table reduction
  • Increased carbon dioxide emissions
  • Misuses millions of gallons of water
  • Depletes fertile land
  • Produces enormous mining waste

Recycling lithium batteries allows manufacturers to reuse some or all parts of the battery to reduce the need for further mining.

Battery Recycling at Batteries Plus

All of us at Batteries Plus are dedicated to helping the environment by making recycling easy for everyone. Each year, we recycle about 49 million pounds of batteries keeping all of that toxic material out of landfills. To learn more about all of the items that we can recycle for you please visit our Recycling Services page.

Stop into your local store and have us handle your recycling needs. Please keep in mind that some batteries do come with small recycling fees. Read our blog article "Recycle Your Old Batteries and Light Bulbs at Batteries Plus" to learn more about the recycling services offered at Batteries Plus.

Want to learn more about our recycling services?

View Recycling Services