Recycling: What’s up with batteries?

This article was written by Randy Klauk, Hennepin County Master Recycler/Composter

Batteries come in many sizes and types. This article will let you know about the different types and how to properly/correctly recycle them. This will take more effort on your part. Batteries come in a variety of types and each has good and bad things about them.

Some batteries contain toxic metals, such as cadmium, lead or mercury, which are threats to human health and the environment. To prevent contaminating the environment, all batteries need to be recycled at a Hennepin County Drop off site. The closest one to North Minneapolis is at 8100 Jefferson Highway, Brooklyn Park.

Carbon zinc

Carbon zinc batteries are a cheap substitute for alkaline and lithium batteries because they have a low energy density that is really only suitable for powering low-power devices like a clock or remote.

These are common, economical, easy to dispose of, and extremely popular. They normally have a capacity rating of 2,500 mAh (milliampere/hour). It is commonly used to measure the energy capacity of a battery– great for moderate to heavy-use devices.

Nickel Cadmium
NiCd, are a popular rechargeable battery choice for toys, digital cameras or other high-drain devices like flashlights. They come in standard sizes, like AA, AAA, C and 9V. One thing to remember is always use them until they run out of power. If you only use them part way and then recharge it, the battery will get what’s called ‘memory effect’ and not last as long.




Nickel metal hydride
NiMH are another type of rechargeable battery but without the memory effect. They are a better choice for a rechargeable.

These types of batteries are one of the most commonly used battery types. They offer the highest energy density of any other battery cell, meaning they store more energy than other batteries, such as alkaline. Lithium batteries are sold in many sizes and are often used with power tools like drills.

Lithium-ion batteries, also frequently referred to as Li-ion, and are a popular and commonly used battery. Although you may not realize what kind of battery powers your mobile phone or laptop, chances are it’s a li-ion battery. These batteries are a type of rechargeable battery and can be recharged over and over again. They do not require regular maintenance, and provide an extremely high energy density. Li-ion batteries are not available in consumer sizes because they could explode if placed in a regular device used to recharge batteries. Instead, they require a special kind of charger.

Silver Oxide

Silver oxide batteries most common uses are in wrist watches, some very thin remotes and other small devices. Because the battery is constructed of real silver, they need to be recycled properly.

These are not rechargeable and offer the highest energy density of any other battery cell, meaning they store more energy than other batteries, such as alkaline. One AA lithium battery ranges from 2,700-3,400 mAh, and will last a long time, even under heavy-use. Like the other batteries they need to be properly recycled.



Zinc air
Zinc air are unique in construction, as they generate electrical power through exposure to oxygen. This makes them unfit for wrist watches, but perfect for hearing aids. Activating the battery requires a user to remove a sealing tab from the battery, enabling airflow.

Rechargeable batteries
Rechargeables are a cost-effective solution that save you money in the long run. Lithium-ion batteries are the ones that are most common. These batteries power laptops, cell phones, rechargeable game controllers, and portable electronic devices like shavers, portable fans and power tools.

The thing that makes these batteries so wonderful is also what makes them so dangerous! There have been large fires caused by the batteries being recycled the wrong way or put into trash containers. Consumers need to do their part to prevent lithium-ion battery fires. Proper recycling of unused electronics and lithium-ion batteries is essential. They cannot be tossed in the trash or a regular recycling bin. Lithium-ion batteries must be separated from combustible recyclables and materials like cardboard, paper, and wood scraps. Also, place a piece of tape over the terminals before taking them to a Hennepin Drop Off site.

All batteries need to be taken to a Hennepin County Drop Off site. The one closest to North Minneapolis is at 8100 Jefferson Highway, Brooklyn Park, just north of 694 and Hwy 169.