City of
Madison

Household Battery Recycling

The City of Madison has a drop-off program for recycling household batteries and they must be properly prepared so they can be recycled.

Madison residents can recycle their properly prepared single-use household batteries (A, AA, AAA, C, D, lantern batteries, etc) by bringing them to the City’s drop-off sites.

There are three main types, or "chemistries," for household batteries. 

 

There are specific handling directions for each kind.

Basic Rules

For all battery types, please remove them from packaging, bags, and other battery storage/transport means (like bottles or jars).

Battery recycling is for household batteries only. Do not place nails, screws, light bulbs, electric toothbrushes, vape pens, or other small items in with the batteries.

 

LITHIUM BATTERIES

Residents should separate lithium batteries from the other types. You must also tape their contact points with clear tape.

You must use clear tape. Packing tape is best. 

Do not use duct tape, masking tape, electric tape or gaffers tape, and so on.

Place taped batteries into the appropriate container at the drop-off sites.

How can I tell if I have a lithium battery?

Lithium batteries are easily identifiable.

Lithium batteries will be clearly labeled with the word "Lithium" or "Li-ion" written on them.

They are the flat, button-like batteries, like those found in watches or hearing aides.

They also commonly found powering cameras, phones, and lap tops. Sometimes they look like traditional single-use batteries but have the word "Lithium" written on the side. Many drills, and other heavy-duty battery operated items (like lawn mowers) use lithium batteries.

How should I tape these batteries?

The easiest way to tape your lithium batteries is to first lay a strip of packing tape on a flat surface, sticky side up. Place the batteries onto the sticky strip of tape. Finally, press another strip of packing tape (sticky side down) on top of the batteries, making a simple package that prevents the batteries from slipping and contacting each other. 

You are trying to cover the parts of the battery that deliver power to the device they would be inside. These would be the "contact points."

Here's an example:

Taped lithium batteries using packing tape to ensure ends cannot touch

 

Why do I need to tape up batteries? This is a hassle.

Lithium batteries are a fire hazard. They can generate heat, or spark when damaged, which can lead to fires. Taping the contact points makes them inactive. Taping the ends is to help comply with US Department of Transportation regulations on shipping these types of batteries.

nickel batteries

Residents should separate nickel batteries from the other types. You must also tape their contact points with clear tape.

You must use clear tape. Packing tape is best.

Do not use duct tape, masking tape, electric tape or gaffers tape, or so on.

Place taped batteries into the appropriate container at the drop-off sites.

How can I tell if I have a nickel battery?

These are most often rechargeable batteries for items like drills or cordless telephones.

You can identify them because they have "Ni-CD" or "Ni-MH" written on the battery.

How should I tape these batteries?

Same way as with the lithium batteries.  You should cover the area where the battery would be delivering power to the device.

Some nickel batteries have a red and black wire leading from the battery to a plastic plug or port. Cover this plastic piece with clear tape to prevent the nickel battery from delivering a charge.

Other nickel batteries are more traditional and have metal contact points.

Here's some examples of taped nickel batteries:

Photo of taped nickel batteries

Why do I need to tape up these batteries?

It's required by the vendor who accepts them.

alkaline batteries

There are no special handling instructions for most alkaline batteries.

Alkaline batteries 12 volts and higher should be taped in the manner noted above (tape the contact points).

Only use clear tape. Packing tape works best.

Do not use duct tape, electrical tape, making tape, gaffers tape, and so on. 

Zinc batteries can also be placed in with the alkaline batteries without being taped.

Place them into the appropriate container at the drop-off sites.

 

BATTERY DROP OFF LOCATIONS for city residents

  • City of Madison Drop-Off Site, 4602 Sycamore Ave.
  • City of Madison Drop-Off Site, 1501 W. Badger Rd.

Both drop-off sites have clearly marked containers for the household batteries. Please place the batteries into the correct container.

Other drop off sites may exist at private locations throughout the city, but the requirement to separate and package batteries will likely be enforced at these locations as well.

Batteries Plus locations will recycle batteries for a fee.

Other information

Single Use Batteries Vs. Rechargeable, Which Should You Choose?

Read up on the debate and decide what's best for your situation:

Single Use Vs. Rechargeable Batteries (Earth 911)

Are Rechargeable Batteries Better Than Alkaline? (NY Times/Wirecutter)

More Rechargeable Battery Recycling Options:

There are many locations in the greater Dane County area that can recycle rechargeable batteries, including many hardware stores. Check the Dane County Recycling & Disposal Directory for more options.

Vehicle, UPS, & Other Lead Acid Batteries

Vehicle batteries and other lead acid batteries can be easily recycled.