Solid Waste Authority Offers Tips for Safe and Proper Handling of Batteries and Electronics

In contrast to the largely stationary internet of the early 2000s, Americans today are increasingly connected to the world of digital information while “on the go” via smartphones and other mobile devices.

January 31, 2020

In contrast to the largely stationary internet of the early 2000s, Americans today are increasingly connected to the world of digital information while “on the go” via smartphones and other mobile devices. As of 2019, the vast majority of Americans – 96% - now own a cellphone of some kind, according to the Pew Research Center. Furthermore, Americans spent $71 billion on telephone and communication equipment in 2019, nearly five times what they spent in 2010. With the increase in electronics consumption, comes an increase in the amount of cell phones and other electronics being disposed of and recycled.

The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority (Authority) wants to remind residents and businesses in the region that is against NY State Law to dispose of rechargeable batteries (i.e. lithium ion, lead acid, nickel cadmium, nickel-metal hydride) and electronics (i.e. computers, computer components, cell phones, televisions) in the garbage. Residents and businesses in Oneida and Herkimer Counties can drop off rechargeable batteries and electronic waste for proper recycling and disposal at the Authority’s Utica and Rome EcoDrops year-round, at no charge.

“Rechargeable batteries, such as lithium ion batteries, are becoming more prevalent in household items such as electronic devices, medical devices, remote control toys, power tools, vacuums, chain saws and lawn mowers. The larger the battery, the more concerning they become. Rechargeable batteries contain toxic metals that can be released into the environment when not managed correctly. Improper handling of rechargeable batteries and electronics can cause other dangers including fires and explosions in homes, garbage trucks and waste facilities including transfer stations and landfills,” stated Authority Recycling Educator Jamie Tuttle.

Tips for safely handling rechargeable batteries and electronic devices:

  • Watch for signs of bad batteries such as overheating, odor, leaks or changes in color/shape; shut off the device and move it away from things that can catch fire.
  • Do not try and remove lithium-ion batteries yourself – bring them to an electronics professional or directly to the Solid Waste Authority’s EcoDrops for proper recycling and disposal.
  • Keep battery-containing devices out of high heat. To avoid overheating batteries, never overcharge your device. Unplug the device once it is fully charged.
  • Avoid charging devices on flammable materials such as a bed, couch or paper.
  • Do not allow batteries to get wet or be exposed to water.
  • Deliver unwanted rechargeable batteries or electronics to the Authority’s Utica or Rome EcoDrops year-round, at no charge, where they are safely handled for proper recycling and disposal.
    • EcoDrop Utica (80 Leland Avenue Ext.) – Monday – Friday 8AM – 4PM and Saturday 7AM – 2PM
    • EcoDrop Rome (575 Perimeter Road) – Monday – Friday 8AM – 4PM and Saturday 8AM – 12PM

Household alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable) should be placed in your garbage for disposal. “Previously, alkaline battery disposal posed an environmental threat because of the mercury content. Since mercury has been phased out of battery production, single-use alkaline battery disposal has become simpler and safer and such items can be placed with your regular garbage.,” continued Tuttle.

For more information on the Authority’s recycling and solid waste programs, please visit www.ohswa.org. You can also visit www.AmIRecyclable.com to search hundreds of items to determine proper recycling and disposal methods. For additional questions, feel free to contact the Authority’s Administrative Office at (315) 733-1224.