Tioga Sustainability: Putting rechargeable batteries in recycling bins is dangerous


Tioga County Sustainability Manager Ellen Pratt has written this reminder about the dangers of putting rechargeable batteries in your recycling.

You can help prevent fires in recycling trucks and at recycling facilities by keeping Lithium Ion and other rechargeable batteries out of your recycling bin or cart. Instead, take them to one of the many local drop-off locations. 

The potential for an explosion or fire is significant when rechargeable batteries are improperly disposed. Lithium Ion batteries are one of the leading causes of recycling truck fires. In fact, there was a fire at the local Material Recovery Facility in January 2020 due to an improperly disposed Lithium Ion battery. Luckily, no one was injured; however, properly disposing of your cellphones and any rechargeable batteries, especially Lithium Ion variety, is crucial to avoid dangerous fires and ensure safety.

Some have suggested the cause for improper disposal of rechargeable batteries is likely due to a common misconception. When an item states it is “recyclable” many assume that you can recycle it in your recycling bin or cart; this is not the case. It is also important to note that rechargeable batteries cannot be disposed in your trash either. Although the back of a trash truck is usually wetter and less likely to feed the sparks from these batteries and start a fire, they are still considered a household hazardous waste. They pose numerous health and environmental hazards. When you discard them, they must be disposed of at a battery recycling drop-off location, NOT placed in the trash or your recycling bin/cart.

Here are some of the local locations Tioga County residents can properly recycle rechargeable batteries (NiCad, NiMh, Lithium Ion) and cellphones:


Valu Home Center, 1149 Route 17c, Owego607-687-6800 and 1105 Broadway St., Elmira607-732-3200

Home Central, 151 Central Ave., Owego607-687-3284

Dollar General, 1140 Owego Road, Candor607-354-4421 and 7146 Route 434, Apalachin607-625-3922

Home Depot, Johnson City

Lowe’s, Vestal, & Sayre, PA

If your CELL PHONE is NOT working: All cell phone dealers, large and small, are required by law to accept cell phones, regardless of brand or where they were purchased.

More locations for recycling batteries and cellphones can be found on Call 2 Recycle’s website https://www.call2recycle.org/locator/

Alkaline (non-rechargeable) batteries are considered trash and should be thrown away.

Keep rechargeable batteries out of your recycling bins or carts.