Batteries power our daily lives, but eventually reach their end of life and must be disposed of properly. It is illegal to put batteries in the trash.
Proper disposal of batteries helps prevent potentially hazardous materials in batteries (such as lithium, cadmium, and nickel) from harming the environment. It also protects waste workers and equipment from possible fires as batteries can get crushed inside recycling and/or trash compactors.
On September 7, 2016, our recycling facility at the Shoreway Environmental Center had a 4-alarm fire that was likely caused by a lithium-ion battery. Thankfully, all staff were evacuated safely, but it shut down our facility for four months and cost over $8.5 million in damages to our recycling sorting equipment. Find out how you can dispose of batteries safely and easily in the RethinkWaste service area below. For more information about why safe battery disposal is important, read this N&R publication below about battery safety and safe disposal.
Residents in single-family homes in the RethinkWaste service area can place household batteries (i.e. rechargeable, alkaline, button) in a sealed clear zip-top bag and place ON TOP OF YOUR BLACK GARBAGE CART on your regular collection day. Please tape lithium-ion batteries before placing in the zip-top bag. No car or lead acid batteries.
See list below for pick up locations for orange battery bags OR use you may use ANY clear zip-top bag.
For use by single-family households ONLY.
Residents in multi-family dwellings (apartments/condos) with five or more units can place bagged batteries into an orange battery bucket. Buckets are often found in common areas, such as a lobby, multi-use room, mail room, or clubhouse.
If you don’t see one at your location, ask your property manager or owner to get a bucket for your building(s) from Recology San Mateo County for free!
Note: Only property managers/owners can request a bucket and coordinate pickups.
There are a handful of convenient and free drop-off locations in the RethinkWaste service area, including the Shoreway Environmental Center, to drop-off batteries. See the map below. Please call the location before heading out to make sure they are open and if there is a limit.
For more drop-off locations beyond just household batteries, check out RecycleStuff.org.
San Mateo County’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Facility
If you have other hazardous waste to dispose of in addition to batteries, consider making an appointment for a HHW drop-off event near you. San Mateo County has a permanent facility in San Mateo that is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except major holiday weekends) and temporary events throughout the County, including RethinkWaste member agencies such as East Palo Alto, Foster City, Menlo Park, and Redwood City. You can make an appointment by going to www.smchealth.org/hhw.