Rechargeable batteries are but one example of household wastes that require special handling for proper disposal. Other items include automotive waste (motor oil, for example), fluorescent light bulbs (including CFLs), BBQ tanks, paint and electronics.

The county has published a succinct guide for recycling and disposing of special household wastes. It explains where Westchester residents can take these items when they are depleted, and in some cases, how they should be prepared for disposal. We cover these special items on our Web site and encourage you to read and follow the instructions, because throwing some of these special household wastes in the garbage is illegal.

Household batteries

The following table provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation shows the most common household batteries and the way to handle them at their end-of-life. Note that:

  • Since 1993, domestically produced non-rechargeable (disposable) alkaline and carbon zinc batteries contain no added mercury and are essentially mercury-free.
  • Since early 1995, rechargeable alkaline batteries contain no added mercury and are essentially mercury-free
  • Rechargeable nickel-zinc batteries contain a non-toxic, safe, high performance rechargeable Ni-Zn battery.
Non-Rechargeable (Disposable)
Type of Battery
Common Uses Proper Disposal Hazardous Component
Carbon Zinc Many household uses Household Garbage None
Alkaline Many household uses Household Garbage None
Mercuric Oxide (Button) Medical equipment Recycling Program Mercury
Silver Oxide (Button) Calculators, watches, cameras Recycling Program Silver
Zinc-air (Button) Hearing aids, pagers, cameras Recycling Program Mercury
Lithium Computers, cameras Recycling Program Lithium


Rechargeable (Reusable)
Type of Battery Common Uses Proper Disposal Hazardous Component
Small Sealed Lead-Acid Tools, camcorders Recycling Program  Lead and Acid
Alkaline Many household uses Household Garbage  None
Nickel-Cadmium Smoke alarms, tools, household uses Recycling Program Cadmium
Nickel-Zinc Cellular and cordless phones, cordless power tools, laptop computers, PDAs, two-way radios, camcorders, remote control toys, and other cordless products Recycling Program None

Under New York State law, retailers that sell the types of rechargeable batteries listed below are required to accept from consumers and recycle these batteries, for free, during normal business hours. Retailers are also required to post signs informing consumers about in-store recycling programs. Also, residents of New York State are required by law to recycle these batteries. Knowingly disposing of rechargeable batteries as solid waste will subject violators to fines up to $200.

  • Nickel-cadmium
  • Sealed lead
  • Lithium ion
  • Nickel metal hydride
  • Any other such dry cell battery capable of being recharged
  • Battery packs containing any of the above-mentioned batteries

Most consumer products using rechargeable batteries have been designed to allow easy battery removal for proper disposal and recycling.  If the battery cannot be removed, the entire product may be brought to a local drop-off site or residents may bring these items to the Household Material Recovery Facility. All RadioShack, Home Depot and Lowe's stores accept (free of charge and no purchase necessary) rechargeable batteries. Contact local stores for details.  The national program Call2RecycleTM can also help you recycle your used rechargeable batteries and old cell phones.

Vehicle Batteries
Take vehicle batteries to a retailer that sells them.  State law requires such retailers to accept, free of charge, up to (2) vehicle batteries per person per month.  You can also call local scrap metal dealers or your local Recycling Office and ask if they will accept your battery.

If a service station or retailer refuses to accept your motor oil or vehicle battery, you have the right to report the facility to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Enforcement Division at (845) 256-3013.