Alkaline Manganese Batteries
Alkaline batteries are used in everything from cameras and flashlights to remote controls. They are less of an issue than other batteries when disposed of in landfills as the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act passed in 1996, phased out the use of mercury in alkaline batteries.
Residents should place these in the trash (in the City of Tampa, the majority of trash is taken to the McKay Bay Waste-To-Energy Facility for processing), but be extra careful to prevent leaking by:
Putting multiple batteries in the same plastic bag
Securing the ends of each battery with masking tape
Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) Batteries
Ni-Cd batteries are an inexpensive, rechargeable form of alkaline batteries. They can be recharged hundreds of times and are, for the most, part interchangeable with alkalines. Ni-Cd batteries contain the toxic metal cadmium, therefore these batteries are considered hazardous waste and should not be disposed of in the trash. They should be taken to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event for safe disposal / recycling. Recycling involves using heat to separate the high temperature metals, such as nickel and iron, from the low temperature ones, like zinc and cadmium. Some of the metals solidify after they melt, while others are reprocessed as metal oxides. These metals all have value.
Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) Batteries
The Li-ion battery, commonly found in cell phones and consumer electronics. These batteries are also being introduced as the power source for electric vehicles. It is likely that Li-ion batteries will be disposed of along with an electronic device. In most cases, the company that handles the electronic device will accept the battery as well. These batteries are recycled in the same way as Ni-Cd batteries and produce valuable metals.
Silver Oxide Batteries
This is the more common form of the button cell battery, found in calculators, hearing aids and wristwatches. Silver oxide and other button cell batteries also contain mercury, which makes recycling a must.
In many cases, a professional will replace these batteries, so ask the business if it will recycle the battery for you. If not, these batteries are accepted as part of the City and County Household Hazardous Waste Collection programs. Silver oxide batteries are typically shredded during the recycling process to recover the valuable heavy metals.
If you have other types of batteries, the first step is determining what chemicals they contain, which will tell you if they are classified as hazardous waste. The presence of cadmium, lead or mercury will indicate that you’re dealing with household hazardous waste.
Additional Information Resources
Visit Earth911 to find a battery recycling location near you.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection's HOMEOWNER'S GUIDE TO BATTERY RECYCLING AND DISPOSAL
Think Green From Home - Batteries Recycled: Alkalines (AAA, AA, C, D, 9 volt, and 6 volt), button cells, and rechargeables. Fees: $16.95 kit includes box and pre-paid return shipping label.