Dispose of batteries

Last updated: 4 May 2021

Why recycle batteries?

Batteries are a risk to human health and the environment if disposed of inappropriately. They also contain valuable metals such as cadmium, zinc, manganese, cobalt and rare earth metals that may be recovered through recycling.

Recycle your batteries to:

  • reduce landfill
  • reduce the use of finite natural resources in the production of new batteries
  • remove toxic and hazardous substances from landfill (particularly lead, cadmium and mercury that may contaminate soil and groundwater)
  • minimise the risk of explosions or fires as a result of inappropriately stored or disposed of lithium metal batteries.

How to recycle batteries

Household batteries can easily be recycled at no cost by dropping them off at:

Who can use permanent drop-off sites?

Permanent drop-off sites are for Victorian households only. Businesses can get more information on battery recycling through the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative.

Which batteries can be recycled through permanent drop-off sites?

Most batteries under 5kg can be dropped off, including all domestic alkaline (single use) and rechargeable batteries. These batteries are found in many household appliances and personal devices such as:

  • cordless phones
  • cordless power tools
  • digital cameras
  • hearing aids
  • laptop computers
  • mobile phones
  • palm pilots
  • portable disc players
  • portable electric shavers
  • portable video games
  • remote controlled toys
  • video cameras.

Batteries and landfill

Less than 3% of all batteries purchased in Australia are currently recycled, the rest are sadly going to landfill. This means that over 14000 tons of batteries are destined for landfill each year. Australia’s performance compares very poorly with the recovery rates of other counties. France recovers 36% of all batteries sold into the market and Switzerland recovers an impressive, but achievable, 72%.

What happens to recycled batteries?

After collection, batteries are sorted by chemistry type. They are sent on to the respective recyclers in Australia and overseas. Precious materials and resources are recovered from the batteries, including:

  • cadmium
  • lithium
  • nickel
  • silver oxide
  • zinc.

What about rechargeable batteries?

Approximately 70% of batteries sold each year in Australia are single-use batteries, and most of them end up in landfill. Rechargeable batteries can be recharged hundreds of times, making them an ideal choice because they:

  • save you money
  • reduce the use of finite natural resources in the production of batteries
  • reduce the release of greenhouse gasses associated with extraction of these resources
  • divert from landfill and resulting contamination of soil and groundwater.

Remember that it's also important to recycle your rechargeable batteries.

Safe handling guidelines

Used batteries are potentially hazardous, so they need to be stored and handled carefully.

  • Keep batteries out of reach of children. Button cells (small round batteries) can be swallowed, causing choking or chemical burns
  • Be careful of damaged or leaking batteries. Some of the materials inside batteries are toxic and could result in poisoning
  • Keep batteries away from sunlight or heat. This may result in leakage of toxic materials
  • Reduce fire risk. Place individual batteries in a plastic bag or sleeve. Tape over the terminals of any lithium-based batteries, such as button cells; phone, camera and laptop batteries; and batteries with both terminals on one side (for example, 9V batteries).

For more information about the safe collection, storage, transport and handling of used handheld batteries refer to the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative guidelines.