How to Reduce the Dangers of Used Batteries

By Sally O'Brien

There are many environmental and safety reasons to sustainably recycle or sell scrap batteries. At Metal Men Recycling, our experts typically deal with the safe recycling of lead-acid batteries which can be found in cars, trucks and some heavy machinery. These batteries are composed of lead and lead compounds, which is a heavy metal that is almost 100% recyclable. Despite the many benefits of selling old batteries, too often people are not aware of the risks associated with inappropriate storage or disposal. Here we’ve prepared a summary of the dangers posed by used batteries, and how best to safely handle them. 

The dangers of used batteries

In Victoria, used batteries and other e-waste cannot be disposed of in the household garbage. This is due to the risk to the environment and human health that batteries pose if they are disposed of incorrectly. Recycling your AA, AAA, C, D and 9V batteries at participating free battery recycling services, and selling your scrap lead-acid batteries to responsible metal recycling specialists, removes these toxic and hazardous substances from landfill and reduces the risk of the harmful contaminants leaking into the groundwater and soil. 

Improper storage or disposal of batteries can also pose serious safety risks.

    • Batteries can cause explosions and fires as they can emit flammable gas, heat or cause a spark if terminals connect with metal objects.
    • Leaving smaller household batteries lying around creates a choking hazard for young children.
    • Many batteries can pose the risk of corrosion, particularly if their outer shell is damaged.
    • The electrolyte or chemicals within a damaged or leaking battery can be harmful to skin, eyes, clothes and plastics, making safe disposal a priority.

When disposing of batteries, it is also important to ensure that the battery has a very low voltage and the energy has been fully discharged to avoid electric shocks. Despite the many dangers of storing used batteries, less than 3% of all batteries purchased within Australia are recycled, which is a very poor number and a massive waste of recyclable resources.

Safe handling of lead-acid batteries

Used batteries are potentially hazardous. When collecting your household batteries for recycling, it is always best to wear protective gear such as rubber gloves and eyewear to avoid the risk of direct contact with skin in case any leakage or corrosion has occurred. Protective wear could also include old clothes, and in some extreme cases, rubber boots and a rubber apron. 

Batteries should not be stored in locations that could lead to elevated temperatures and should not be placed with other metal objects to minimise the risk of a short circuit. Batteries should always be stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and not transported loosely in bags or pockets. Larger batteries like lead-acid batteries can also be heavy, so extra care should be taken when lifting.

This includes having a secure, wide stance, bending your knees and keeping the load close to the body to avoid spinal injuries and strains. When handling lead-acid batteries it is important that you do not attempt to remove any lead or plastic from the battery. Lead-acid batteries should only be recycled by licensed professionals due to the dangerous material inside — this is for safety reasons and to avoid wasting valuable materials. Used car batteries should be disposed of at sustainable recycling plants.

The outer seal is there to protect you from harmful chemicals, such as sulfuric acid, within the battery. Car batteries must be collected, transported and stored with proper care, so if the battery is leaking or appears damaged, cover the battery in an old cloth or towel and handle it with additional care. Remember that although protective gear should always be worn, it is best to also wash your hands thoroughly after handling and selling old batteries for recycling.

Are you looking to sell scrap batteries?

If you have a lead-acid battery in need of safe disposal or you’re looking to sell scrap batteries or scrap metal, our experts have the tools to sustainably recycle your metal waste at competitive rates.

Metal Men Recycling offers 24-hour pick up services for all scrap metal and batteries with a range of collection bins in varying sizes for your home or business. Our recycling experts deliver the bins to you and will collect them the next day for an easy, stress-free recycling process. 

If you’d like to get in touch with us to discuss our services or sell scrap batteries, then please give us a call on 03 5941 6677 or contact us via the enquiry form found on our website.

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Find us at: 18 Drovers Place, Pakenham VIC 3810