Battery Disposal for Small-Scale Waste Producers

Responsible waste solutions needn’t break a facility’s budget

Battery Disposal for Small-Scale Waste Producers

Facilities that generate a low volume of daily waste often find it cost prohibitive to contract the services of a specialty waste management company. Although these facilities can discard most of their waste in dumpsters designated for landfilling or recycling, they might not have a good solution for the proper disposal of hazardous waste, such as batteries. And they often have limited space for storing hazardous waste until they have collected enough to recycle it in large volumes.

Fortunately, compliant hazardous waste disposal is achievable for all organizations, including smaller facilities with limited resources. This includes compliant battery disposal.

Know the hazards of improper disposal

When batteries run out of charge or are no longer needed, they cannot be discarded with the regular trash. Batteries are classified under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Universal Waste Rule, meaning they require special handling and disposal. Facilities must remain compliant with regulations to avoid financial penalties.

Batteries can contain several heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, mercury, and lithium. If enough batteries are landfilled rather than properly recycled, they create lasting environmental and health issues. As landfilled batteries corrode, their toxic metals leach into the soil, contaminating groundwater and surface water, which are both sources of drinking water. Exposure to these chemicals can pose significant health hazards to humans and wildlife, with links to cancer and cognitive damage.

Lithium batteries are also unstable. They can cause landfill fires that are difficult to control and result in the burning of other toxic chemicals and materials, contributing to unhealthy air quality
and global warming.

Compare your disposal options

Recycling batteries through a specialty waste management provider is perhaps the easiest way to ensure proper disposal. These providers often have disposal options for facilities with low
volumes of battery waste.

Other options include:

  • Municipal recycling events: Many municipalities hold household hazardous waste recycling events in partnership with specialty waste management providers. While these events are primarily intended for residents, they often accept small quantities of approved hazardous waste, such as batteries, from businesses operating within the area. After the event, the waste
    management providers follow regulated steps to properly recycle the batteries and other waste collected. Facility managers should contact city officials regarding the location and frequency of these events to determine if this option is the right fit for their organization.
  • Mail-in recycling programs: Some national waste management providers offer mail-in programs specifically tailored to hazardous waste disposal, including batteries. These services enable businesses to package and safely mail their used batteries to specialized recycling centers. The process is simple: facility managers choose their waste type
    and the amount of waste they have, no matter how small. Then, the waste management provider sends a box for the facility manager to fill with batteries, which is then shipped back to the prelabeled address on the box. This à la carte service is advantageous for facilities that have low volumes of battery waste and limited space to store hazardous waste long term.

Commit to proper disposal

If you’re uncertain about how to manage your facility’s used batteries, consider consulting a national full-service waste management company. These experts are experienced with a variety of waste types and sizes. They can tailor their solutions to meet the specific needs of small-scale waste producers, ensuring environmentally responsible and compliant practices are followed
within budget.

Responsible hazardous waste management requires additional costs and planning. By exploring these viable solutions, even organizations with low volumes of waste can achieve proper and compliant battery recycling without breaking the bank.

Michael Pauzano

Facility Manager, Clean Earth

Michael Pauzano is the facility manager of Clean Earth’s E-Waste Facility and TSDF, both located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He has been with Clean Earth for more than 10 years, has extensive experience in the industry, and is knowledgeable about e-waste and universal waste recycling trends.

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Battery Disposal for Small-Scale Waste Producers
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