Colorful used batteries that are ready to be recycled sustainably

Why Your School Should Recycle Your Old Batteries & Light Bulbs

Which Products Can be Recycled & How to Get Started

When it comes to recycling old batteries and bulbs, many organizations have questions. It can be confusing determining which particular products can be recycled and how your institution should actually go about recycling them. Here are the whats, wheres and hows of recycling, as well as the impact recycling has on your sustainability efforts.

Why Your School Should Recycle

We’re all aware that recycling is important, but here are a few specific reasons why your school should recycle its old batteries and bulbs.

Recycling keeps harmful materials out of landfills.

Both batteries and light bulbs contain materials such as mercury, cadmium and lead that can harm the environment and even infiltrate water supplies. Proper recycling prevents these materials from leeching into the soil.

Recycling reduces the need for raw materials and helps to conserve resources.

Obtaining many of the materials used in batteries is both expensive and harmful to the environment. Recycling reduces the need to mine more of these substances. This impact can be significant. For instance, almost 90% of the material found in a light bulb can be recycled, while 70% of a lead acid battery’s weight is reusable lead. Recycling also promotes reusing material in the production of new batteries, which can help keep their prices low.

Recycling is required by law.

Federal law mandates that certain types of batteries, including lead acid batteries, lithium-based and nickel cadmium batteries must be recycled. A number of states also have their own particular recycling laws. Ignoring these requirements can result in penalties, including severe fines.

Recycling creates jobs.

A recent EPA study found that in a single year, recycling helps to create 681,000 jobs and accounts for $36.6 billion in wages and $6.7 billion in tax revenues.

What Types of Batteries Can You Recycle

Each year, Batteries Plus Bulbs recycles roughly 47.5 million pounds of lead acid batteries and 1.68 million pounds of other battery types. Due to differences in state and local regulations, there is some variation in the type of recyclable material your local Batteries Plus Bulbs store may accept. As a general rule though we accept the following:

  • Lead acid batteries can be found in cars, trucks, emergency lighting, lawn equipment, floor scrubbers, UPS systems, and more.
  • Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries can be found in rechargeable devices like cordless phones, drills, camcorders, calculators, electronic flash units and tool battery packs.
  • Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries are commonly used in exit/emergency lights, flashlights, camcorders, cameras, barcode scanners, back-up power and battery packs.
  • Lithium Ion batteries are used to power cell phones, laptops, two-way radios, scanners, tools, flashlights, watches and tool battery packs.
  • Alkaline batteries are used in common devices such as flashlights, microphones, thermometers, smoke detectors, fire alarms and touchless hand sanitizer and air freshener stations, sinks, toilets and paper towel dispensers.

What Types of Light Bulbs Can You Recycle

In an average year, Batteries Plus Bulbs recycles over half a million pounds of light bulbs and over 30,000 pounds of ballasts. Batteries Plus Bulbs recycles the following types of light bulbs:

  • LED
  • compact fluorescent (CFLs)
  • fluorescent tubes
  • U-bend fluorescent bulbs
  • plastic coated & shatter shield bulbs
  • incandescent
  • soft/flood lamps
  • germicidal & UV lamps
  • halogen
  • high pressure sodium
  • mercury vapor
  • cold cathode
  • ballasts

Batteries Plus Bulbs makes recycling batteries and bulbs easy.

Whether you’re a small school or a large university with dozens of different campuses, our experts will work with you to help tackle your recycling needs. When you choose us as your recycling partner, you can also be sure your school is in full compliance with all federal, state, municipal, EPA and DOT regulations. Plus, we can provide you with any documentation you require for your records.

About the Author

Founded in 1988, Batteries Plus Bulbs is the largest and fastest-growing provider of batteries, light bulbs, and repairs for smartphones and tablets.


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