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Trashing Batteries & Chemicals

How to Dispose of Batteries and Chemicals Safely in Morris County

Batteries and chemicals are essential for many everyday devices and products, but they can also pose serious dangers to the environment and human health if they are not disposed of properly. In this article, we will explain why batteries and chemicals are hazardous, how they can affect solid waste facilities, and what you can do to dispose of them safely in Morris County.

Why are batteries and chemicals hazardous?

Batteries and chemicals contain various substances that can be toxic, corrosive, flammable, or explosive. For example, lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly used in electric vehicles, laptops, phones, and other devices, can catch fire or explode if they are damaged, overheated, or short-circuited. They can also release toxic gases such as hydrogen fluoride (HF) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN), which can cause severe burns, respiratory problems, and even death .

Chemicals such as paints, solvents, pesticides, cleaners, and medications can also pose risks if they are not handled or stored properly. They can leak or spill from their containers and contaminate the soil, water, and air. They can also react with other substances and cause fires or explosions. Some chemicals can also harm human health by causing skin irritation, eye damage, organ failure, or cancer.

How do batteries and chemicals affect solid waste facilities?

Batteries and chemicals can cause serious problems for solid waste facilities if they are thrown in the garbage or recycling bins. They can damage the equipment and infrastructure of the facilities, such as trucks, conveyors, compactors, shredders, and sorting machines. They can also endanger the workers who handle the waste materials and may not be aware of the hazards.

One of the biggest threats that batteries and chemicals pose to solid waste facilities is fire. According to a report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lithium-ion batteries were involved in 65% of the fires at waste management and recycling facilities in 2018. These fires can be hard to detect and extinguish because they can smolder for hours or days before erupting into flames. They can also spread quickly and cause extensive damage to the facilities and the surrounding environment.

Another threat that batteries and chemicals pose to solid waste facilities is pollution. If batteries and chemicals are not separated from the rest of the waste stream, they can end up in landfills or incinerators where they can release harmful substances into the environment. For example, batteries can leach metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, nickel, cobalt, and lithium into the groundwater or emit them into the air when burned. Chemicals can also contaminate the groundwater or air with organic compounds or acids that can affect wildlife and human health. The MCMUA’s drinking water comes from local aquifers, such as the Alamatong Wellfield shown below, requiring even more attention to potential pollution sources.

What can you do to dispose of batteries and chemicals safely in Morris County?

The best way to manage batteries and chemicals safely is to avoid generating them in the first place. You can do this by choosing products that use less or no batteries or chemicals, such as rechargeable devices or natural cleaners. You can also extend the life of your batteries or chemicals by using them sparingly or properly storing them away from heat, moisture, or direct sunlight.

Dropping off waste at the MCMUA Household Hazardous Waste Facility located at its Mount Olive Transfer Station is free and easy for Morris County residents.

However, if you do have hazardous batteries or chemicals that you need to get rid of, you should never throw them in the garbage or recycling bins. Instead, you should take them to a designated collection site where they can be recycled or disposed of safely. In Morris County, you can use the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority (MCMUA) as a resource for finding out where and how to dispose of your batteries or chemicals.

The MCMUA offers various programs and services for residents and businesses to dispose of their hazardous waste materials. For example:

  • For use-once disposable household batteries (such as alkaline, zinc-carbon, button cell) they are virtually mercury free and pose limited fire exposure. The best management for these batteries is to discard in the regular trash.
    For rechargeable batteries (such as lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride), you can take them to any retailer that participates in the Call2Recycle program ( You can also drop them off at any of the MCMUA household hazardous waste programs. You can schedule a drop-off on the MCMUA website (
  • For automotive batteries (such as lead-acid), you can return them to the retailer where you bought them or take them to a scrap metal dealer or an automotive repair shop that accepts them. You can also drop them off at any of the MCMUA household hazardous waste programs.
  • For household chemicals (such as paints, solvents, pesticides, cleaners, medications), you can bring them to any of the MCMUA household hazardous waste programs. You should keep the chemicals in their original containers and label them clearly. You should also avoid mixing different chemicals or leaking or spilling them during transportation.
  • For business or industrial batteries or chemicals, you can contact the MCMUA for guidance on how to manage them properly. If determined to be eligible as a Very Small Quantity Generator (“VSQG”) of hazardous waste and you follow the federal and state regulations for transportation your business may be able to discard of its hazardous wastes through the MCMUA’s household hazardous waste program for a fee.
Call2 Recycle Banner
Recycling hazardous rechargeable batteries is provided through the program.

By following these steps, you can help protect the environment and human health from the dangers of batteries and chemicals. You can also help reduce the risks and costs for the solid waste facilities that handle your waste materials.