The Problem With Improper Disposal
The corrosivity and heavy metal content (lead) of lead-acid batteries may endanger human health and the environment. Acid spillage from such batteries has caused many disposal sites to be contaminated with lead. Spent lead-acid batteries have been banned from municipal solid waste landfills and incinerators in North Carolina since January 1991.
Hazardous or Non-Hazardous?
New batteries are
and are comprised of
previously recycled materials.
Lead-acid batteries are a characteristic hazardous waste because of the lead (D008) and acid (D002) content. However, batteries that are reclaimed are not considered hazardous waste and do not need to be counted in the quantity of hazardous waste generated per month. Batteries that are not reclaimed and are instead disposed as hazardous waste must be counted toward monthly generation and disposed at a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility.
To Help Prevent Pollution...
Service batteries regularly and change them only when necessary.
Encourage customers to use longer-lasting batteries.
Recycle used lead-acid batteries. Batteries not recycled must be disposed as hazardous waste.
Store and secure all batteries in a manner that prevents leakage of acid or hydrogen gas to the environment. Indoor storage on an acid-resistant rack or tub is recommended. If stored outdoors, batteries should be kept on an impermeable surface such as a concrete slab that has secondary containment, and the storage area should be under cover to prevent acid run-off.
Do not stack batteries as they may fall and crack.
Inspect batteries weekly to ensure there are no leaks or cracks.
Keep a neutralizing agent such as baking soda near by in case of an acid spill.
The Wrong Things To Do
Do not dispose of batteries in a dumpster with other solid waste. This activity is prohibited by State law.
309.70(b) No battery retailer shall knowingly place or dispose a used lead-acid battery in a landfill, incinerator, or waste-to-energy facility. 309.71(a) A person who offers for sale lead-acid batteries at retail in this State shall accept from customers, at the point of transfer or sale, used lead-acid batteries of the type and in a quantity at least equal to the number of new batteries purchased, if offered by customers. (b) A person who offers for sale lead-acid batteries at retail in this State shall post written notice that must be at least 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches in size and must contain the universal recycling symbol and the following language: (1) "It is illegal to improperly dispose of a motor vehicle battery or other lead-acid battery." (2) "Recycle your used batteries." (3) "State law requires us to accept used motor vehicle batteries or other lead-acid batteries for recycling in exchange for new batteries purchased."
Used lead-acid batteries that are disposed and NOT recycled must be managed as hazardous waste because of the lead and acid content (D008, D002). They should be disposed at a permitted hazardous waste facility. The acid and casings from these batteries have been found to contain high quantities of lead and should also be managed as hazardous waste when disposed.
Lead-acid batteries and other hazardous waste batteries, such as nickel-cadmium, mercuric-oxide, and lithium batteries, can be managed under the Universal Waste Rule, 40 CFR 273, codified at 15A NCAC 13A .0019. Contact the Division of Solid Waste Management's Hazardous Waste Section in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for more information.
For More Information
This Fact Sheet is only an overview and does not contain detailed information that may apply to you. You should call one of these offices in the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources for assistance with this subject.
- Note: Many counties and some cities in North Carolina have battery recycling programs and may be willing to work with local auto shops. The Office of Waste Reduction can help identify local contacts and other resources such as processors and recyclers of batteries.
The North Carolina Office of Waste Reduction provides free, non-regulatory technical assistance and education on methods to eliminate, reduce, or recycle wastes before they become pollutants or require disposal. Call OWR at (919) 715-6500 or 800-763-0136 or e-mail us for assistance with issues in this Fact Sheet or any of your waste reduction concerns.