Recharging your Knowledge of Recycling Batteries

Published August 2016 by Darcie DeFoe

UPDATED AUGUST 2016  // ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED April 2013

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Recycling batteries is not as easy as placing old newspapers on a curb. Apart from the energy they store, batteries can contain several toxic materials which are regulated by the EPA and the DOT can be harmful if exposed. As several unfortunate incidents have proven, even used batteries considered “dead” can be the source of fires when stored or transported incorrectly contacted by conductive materials. Proper, responsible disposal or recycling is a delicate matter whenever there is a potential threat to the environment or the safety of others. Like most potentially harmful wastes, The US Department of Transportation has developed laws in order to transport (dispose) of batteries safely.

Since the mid-1990’s TRC has gained expertise in the safe transportation of wastes ranging from toxic gases to Mercury containing lamps. Our recycling trucks have transported everything from old light bulbs to lead paint. This expertise and knowledge of waste handling and disposal regulations have helped our clients simplify the disposal and recycling process for all types of Universal and Hazardous waste. However, transporting waste is not always a simple task. There are many different regulations on state, county and federal levels, for many different forms of waste. Within the past few years, necessary precautions have been assigned to the transportation of a very common universal waste; batteries.

To help prevent accidents and spills, the DOT has come up with packaging requirements for the transportation of batteries.

  • All batteries must be separated by chemistry. For instance, alkaline batteries must be in a separate container than acidic batteries. Batteries have a higher chance of generating a spark with opposing chemistries.
  • Another requirement is protecting covering all battery terminals that exceed 9 volts to prevent short circuits. The battery electrical terminals are the main source of potential ignition when contacted by a conductive material. The DOT requires all terminals to be taped over, individually wrapped in plastic bags or insulated in another form in order to prevent a short circuit.

Once separated and protected, batteries must be containerized for transportation. Since most batteries are potentially harmful to the environment, DOT requires batteries meeting the definition of a hazardous material be shipped inDOT UN performance packaging. TRC has taken the guesswork out of selecting proper UN DOT approved packaging. We offer a wide range of packing to meet federal and state rules. If you have batteries which are too large for standard containers, (large sealed lead acid batteries), they can still be transported safely. Contact your sales representative and they will put you in touch with one of TRC’s transportation safety specialists, we’re here to take the guesswork out of managing waste batteries and provide a safe outlet for proper transportation and recycling!