HWTR Dangerous Materials

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Manage Spent Batteries

Most batteries meet the general definition of dangerous waste, but when they are properly recycled, they are exempt from the dangerous waste regulations. This exemption is conditional on proper handling of the spent batteries.  Mercury, lead, cadmium, and other heavy metals, as well as sulfuric acid, can leak from batteries and pose environmental risks when improperly stored or disposed. Careless handling can also cause explosions. Handling information is offered through the links below:

Lead-acid Battery Exemption is the easiest management method for those businesses that handle lead-acid, such as automotive and marine batteries

Universal Waste Rule for Batteries covers mercury-containing batteries. Lead-acid batteries may also use these guidelines, but it is less-commonly used.

The benefits of managing batteries under either option include:

  • Spent batteries are not counted toward determining generator status.
  • Spent batteries are not reported on the dangerous waste annual report.
  • A manifest is not required for off-site shipment.
  • A RCRA Site Identification number is not needed to ship batteries off-site.
  • OK to self-transport batteries to an appropriate receiving facility.

Non-recycled or mishandled batteries may be upheld to the full extent of the law.

Moderate Risk Waste Contacts can answer questions about waste disposal for businesses that are small-quantity generators.

Mercury-containing Batteries describes these batteries and their disposal options for residents and businesses.

Washington state residents can contact 1-800-RECYCLE for locations that take batteries. There is no curbside recycling of batteries in Washington state.

Related information

The Universal Waste Rule for Batteries is an Ecology fact sheet with information on specific handling requirements.

Labels are available for a free download, including those for batteries.