How to Responsibly Dispose of Batteries at Penn State
There are two kinds of commonly used batteries: non-rechargeable ones, such as alkaline batteries, and rechargeable batteries. The two types have different disposal protocols. Non-rechargeable alkaline batteries can be thrown in the regular trash, whereas rechargeable models, including Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride and Lithium-ion, all contain components that are hazardous to people and/or the environment if not managed correctly. Additional batteries that should be collected due to their hazardous components are lithium single use batteries and lead acid batteries. The University is legally obligated to collect and properly manage rechargeable and other hazardous batteries that are used in University-related business.
How to Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries:
Each building has a Battery Collection Leader(s) in charge of collecting rechargeable batteries, properly packaging and sending them to the University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department for proper processing (find your building’s Battery Collection Leader here).
If you don’t find your building’s contact person is working on campus, please contact the Environmental, Health and Safety department directly to arrange for collection.
It is emphasized that this program is only for batteries used in University-related business. Non-Penn State related batteries may be recycled at Home Depot, Lowes, Staples and the Centre County Solid Waste Authority.. A full description of various battery types can be found below.
Questions can be sent to the EHS.
Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) Batteries:
Typically used in cordless tools, two-way radios, laptop computers, cell phones and other equipment. These batteries contain cadmium, a heavy metal that is hazardous to people and the environment.
Nickle Metal Hydride (NiMH) Batteries:
Typically used in cordless tools, laptop computers, cell phones and other equipment. The components of these batteries are hazardous to the environment.
Lead Acid Batteries:
Typically used as a backup power supply for computers (UPS), emergency lighting, security and fire alarms and to power vehicles. These batteries contain lead and sulfuric acid, both of which are hazardous to people and the environment. (Car batteries from Penn State fleet and department cars are recycled through OPP’s garage. Take your battery to the garage or email email@example.com for pick up.)
Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Batteries:
Typically used in photographic equipment, cell phones, cordless tools and laptop computers, and are becoming more common. These batteries are hazardous to the environment and pose a significant fire risk if not handled properly.
For more information about rechargeable batteries, please visit a Beginner’s Guide to Rechargeable Batteries.
Typically used to power radios, flashlights, and other equipment. These batteries contain a small amount of potassium hydroxide, which does not pose a significant hazard to people or the environment. These batteries are not required to be collected and can be disposed in the regular trash.
Lithium batteries can store more energy than most single use batteries, therefore offering a longer shelf life. Lithium batteries cannot be recharged, but Lithium-Ion batteries can. Lithium batteries are most commonly used in high drain devices, like digital cameras. These batteries can be disposed of through Environmental Health and Safety.
Typically include alkaline, carbon zinc (9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA), mercuric-oxide (button, some cylindrical and rectangular), silver-oxide and zinc-air (button) batteries. Most small, round “button-cell” type batteries are found in items such as watches and hearing aids and contain mercury, silver, cadmium, lithium or other heavy metals that are hazardous to people and the environment. These batteries should be disposed of through Environmental Health and Safety.
Large Batteries >3 lbs:
Contact EHS directly for the recycling of large batteries.
Batteries are not to be brought from home!
Recycled batteries should be from University business only. For disposing batteries used at home, please contact CCRRA or visit their Recycling FAQs page.