Changes to Battery Recycling Program
During the COVID remote-working period, employees on campus with batteries requiring recycling can contact the Environmental, Health and Safety department to arrange for collection. Once the campus returns to full occupancy, Penn State is making it easier for its employees to appropriately recycle their work-related batteries by replacing the ten collection bins that had been distributed around the University Park campus with a building mailer system. The discovery that few of the batteries collected in these bins were properly bagged, thereby posing a fire hazard, prompted the change. Each building has a Battery Collection Leader(s) in charge of managing the mailer program (find your building’s Battery Collection Leader here).
The University is legally obligated to collect and properly manage specific batteries (Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride and Lithium-ion) which all contain components that are hazardous to people and/or the environment if not managed correctly. Each building’s Battery Collection Leader will appropriately bag the batteries and send them to the University’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Department for processing. This system applies to most small batteries except alkaline batteries that can be disposed of in the regular trash. A full description of various battery types can be found below.
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. Other locations can be found through Call2recycle.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.