How can I reuse or recycle … old batteries?

Two AA BatteriesA few weeks ago, we featured a post about old car batteries and I was surprised by the positive response – I thought they would thought they would be one of those things that are destined to sit around being really bad for the planet for millions of years.

So taking inspiration from that, are there any ways to recycle old type of other battery either when they’re used up or no longer rechargeable?

I’m thinking, primarily, about AA and AAA batteries (pencil and um, small thin pencil) ones because they’re the size that most people seem to use around the house but any ideas for any size battery are welcome.

(Photo by iwanbeijes)

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27 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … old batteries?”

  1. amm says:

    I know that you can recycle them at my local tip, so you I would guess you can in most places.

    • Ruud Orlagh says:

      our way to beautiful gir. Ruud Orlagh.

    • SteveF48 says:

      I wish my local council would recycle them, last I heard they were ‘considering the possibility’.
      I try to remember to take them with me when I go to France, it’s easy to recycle them there. Major supermarkets have collection boxes in their stores.
      Why can’t British ones do the same?

      • Dave says:

        Rubbish throw away batteries can be recharged, when recharged in the correct way they
        will not explode or leak, this is only put on to stop people trying to recharge them.

        The same batteries which we use are shipped abroad but without the “May leak or
        explode” printed on the side of the battery
        Recharging is encouraged in Germany and many other countries.

        I’ve been recharging throw away batteries for years, I built my own charger, do not try to
        recharge throw-away batteries on a normal Ni-Cad charger it will only damage the battery
        and it may leak, recharging normal throw-away batteries can only be done on a Charge –
        Recharge cycle.

        Each battery can only be recharged upto about 20 times


      • Stuart says:

        Our local Morrison’s supermarket has a collection box.

  2. Lauren says:

    This sounds horrible, but I was trying to come up with an obvious way to recycle these and thought… well, they’re heavy little buggers, what do you do with heavy little things? Put a bunch of them in a sock and make a weapon! : D

    Also, if they’re colorful (or you want to paint them or something) they would probably make good additions to a set of blocks. I know that my childhood set had many recycled bits (spools of thread & random loose bits from around the house) and batteries could be good castle-building fodder.

    • SteveF48 says:

      It might be dangerous to give them to kids to play with. They no longer contain significant amounts of heavy metals, but the electrolyte is caustic.
      If a battery ruptured it could cause a nasty burn and is probably poisonous.

  3. Jeff Forssell says:

    Rechargeble NiCad batteries often turned bad (=0 volt, not just low) when Nickel crystals grew between the electrodes. By giving a short high current jolt these could be burned off and the batteries recharged. NOTE “SHORT” is important here! A high current can make a battery explode!
    I’ve used a car battery charger and just touched for 1/10th secound + to +, – to -.

  4. My local civic amenity site take them… i think. I also have a big pot of them at home, if there is anywhere i could take them, that would be good. I live in West Wales.

  5. Christina says:

    some branches of dixon’s or curry’s take spent batteries so go into your local one and ask :)

  6. john says:

    dowley gap tip @ bingley have recycling facilities for all batteries

  7. Golden Phoenix says:

    One theory says that by warming spent batteries for a while under/on a hot water bottle will somehow make them work again…no idea if this works, i’ve never actually tried it.

    • ian says:

      If you want to take a picture with your digital camera on a cold take the batteries out and warm them up with body heat!!!
      Always enough for one more picture.
      It’s science – batteries are a chemical reaction. Increase heat = increase rate of reaction = more power!!!!!!

  8. Rose says:

    Sainsbury’s were giving away little bags so you could post (freepost) your batteries to be recycled. I pinched a load so am set for a while.. not sure if they’re still doing it.

  9. Jeff Forssell says:

    For people in places without electric mains just being able to run a bright LED can be useful. A battery that has lost voltage to about 1 volt or lower is usually useless. But there is a kind of circuit called a “joule thief” that coaxes out remaining energy in pulses with high enough voltage (~3 volt) to light an LED. I’ve heard that a “dead” battery can run an LED for about 7 nights (with diminishing brightness). I discover now that there are many variants of it when I search with Google.

  10. David says:

    I came across these guys they are pretty cool but but not sure if they recycle batteries

  11. nel says:

    pfff…maybe we should contact the people produsing batteries…

  12. stephen says:

    I remembered warming up batteries to give them a bit of extra life years ago, and today my remote is now working again after a GENTLE warm up of the two AAAs under the grill!

  13. Paula says:

    You can recycle any household battery FREE using a freepost address or by taking them into any branch of Dixons, Curry’s or PC World. They have a box for batteries – normally behind the counter of the customer service area.

    There is a list of FREEPOST recycling addresses at

  14. Sharon says:

    I’ve phoned my local Sainsburys today and they told me they don’t recycle batteries any more.

    I have a carrier bag full but not sure where to take them.

  15. HuntingWabbits says:

    Radioshack takes them for free. Fairly sure they just find a safe way to dispose of them. I saw this device once that supposedly recharges non-rechargeable batteries, but it cost like $200. If they’re leaking or growing weird crystals, I’m not sure what to do with them.

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