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How to Dispose of Deep Cycle Batteries Safely

Deep cycle batteries are a type of lead-acid battery that are often used in industrial equipment. If not properly disposed of, deep cycle batteries pose a threat to our health and the environment because they contain dangerous chemicals: highly corrosive sulfuric acid and lead. Lead has been linked to central nervous system damage in humans and animals. Sulfuric acid can both generate hydrogen gas, which is highly flammable, and it can cause severe burns. Most states have regulations in place requiring that deep cycle batteries be recycled. To find out how to recycle deep cycle batteries in your area, check your state’s regulations on battery disposal.

How Not to Dispose

While regulations vary by state, there are three ways that you should never attempt to dispose of deep cell batteries:

  • Do not place deep cycle batteries in the garbage to be collected
  • Do not bring deep cycle batteries to a landfill
  • Do not incinerate deep cycle batteries.

Disposing of deep cycle batteries in any of these three ways can be very harmful to the health of you and others due to the release of dangerous chemicals that these batteries contain.

Recycling Deep Cycle Batteries

Deep cycle batteries should always be recycled. Fortunately, more than 98% of all battery lead is recycled in the United States. In fact, lead-acid batteries are the most highly recycled consumer product, rising above aluminum cans, newspapers, glass bottles, and tires. The recycling system for deep cell batteries is extremely efficient because the recycling can continue indefinitely. Typical new lead-acid batteries contain 60-80% recycled lead and plastic because these components of the battery can continue being recycled over and over again.

In many states, you can easily recycle deep cell batteries by simply bringing them back to a lead-acid battery retailer or wholesaler. Where these regulations apply, retail sellers and wholesalers must accept lead-acid batteries of the same type and quantity that they have sold. Check your state’s laws on battery recycling before attempting to dispose of deep cell batteries.

Battery Council International Guide

The Battery Council International Guide has proposed regulations that have served as a model for many state recycling laws for lead-acid batteries. You can use these regulations for more information on the best way to dispose of deep cell batteries in your workplace.

  • Do not ever place a used deep-cell battery in mixed municipal solid waste, a landfill, or a municipal solid waste incinerator.
  • Deliver them to a retailer, wholesaler, secondary lead smelter, or an authorized collection or recycling facility.
  • Violators may be subject to a fine or even a prison term.
  • Retailers should accept used deep cell batteries of the same type that they have sold and in a quantity at least equal to the number of batteries purchased.
  • Retailers share information by posting written notices stating that it is illegal to discard a used deep cell battery, that customers should recycle used batteries, and that state law requires the retailer to accept used batteries for recycling in exchange for new batteries that have been purchased.

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