Batteries are made up of heavy metals and other toxic elements, including nickel, cadmium, mercury, lead and acid. It is these elements that can threaten our environment if not properly discarded and/or recycled.
Unfortunately, batteries which end up in landfills and incinerators may release heavy metals into the environment, causing a health risk to humans and animals.
Surprisingly, Australia does not currently have a national collection and recycling scheme for household (primary and secondary) batteries.
As a result, leading members of the battery industry have recently joined together to investigate the initiation of a national battery collection and recycling scheme. At the moment, the only batteries that can be recycled in the country are lead-acid batteries (used in cars), vented nickel cadmium batteries (used in aviation, rail, trains and for back-up power) and primary alkaline batteries. Other types of batteries are shipped to be recycled overseas. Download Battery fact sheet (PDF)
What you can do
- Reduce battery use
- Use rechargeable batteries (they can be used up to 1000 times, making them a much cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to single-use batteries)
- Find out where the nearest drop-off point is for your old batteries
Different types of batteries:
- Household/single-use (AA, AAA, C and D or alkaline, carbon-zinc, lithium, silver-zinc): can be recycled, avoid disposal to landfill if possible
- Nickel-cadmium (NiCd): used in rechargeable batteries, hazardous waste, must be recycled
- Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Lithium-ion: used in laptops, can be recycled, avoid disposal to landfill if possible
- Button cell: used in hearing aids and watches, contain silver and mercury, hazardous waste, can be recycled
- Automotive & sealed lead-based: used in car batteries, hazardous waste, can be recycled at auto part retailers, service stations and many council depots
For information on where to recycle batteries:
Download Battery fact sheet (PDF)
- Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) - Visit http://batteryrecycling.org.au
- Batteryback (a free battery recycling program for rechargeable batteries and household single-use batteries)
- Battery World (collects alkaline and rechargeable batteries such as nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride or lithium ion): 13 17 60
- SITA’s battery recycling program: (02) 8754 0000
- Contact your local council or community recycling facility to determine your household battery recycling options.