YMCA Thrift Store JPEGJust inside the Y-Center door (closest to the Thrift Shop), on your right, you will see a tall book shelf, and on that book shelf there is at least one black-plastic box with a sign saying “USED HOUSEHOLD BATTERIES ONLY”.  Please read the sign then deposit your used batteries in either one of these two boxes.

photo 2WHAT ARE “HOUSEHOLD” BATTERIES:  These are batteries from electronic devices typically used in or around your home.  Cell phones and chord-less phones, flashlights, security backup devices, timers, watches and hearing aids, power tools, and so forth.



Alkaline BatteriesALKALINE:  The word “Alkaline” is almost always written on he battery.  The word may not be in english, but the words for Alkaline in Spanish and French look very similar.   Alkaline batteries that have their positive & negative terminals on opposite ends of the battery DO NOT NEED TO HAVE THEIR TERMINALS TAPED before leaving them at the YMCA.  (this is a DOT policy change from a few years ago.)  Alkaline batteries that have their positive & negative terminals on only one end of the battery (such as large 6V lantern batteries) should have both terminals covered with heavy tape such as duct tape.  We have found that about 90% of all the household batteries left at the YMCA are alkaline batteries.

NOTE – Some “Alkaline” batteries DO NOT have the word “Alkaline” printed on the battery.  This is often true for inexpensive, lower-quality, alkaline batteries manufactured outside the United States.  These batteries, although they are alkaline, may have some combination of the following words printed on them.

      • “Pb” – the elemental symbol for Lead.  (These batteries may also include an image of a trash can with one or two slashes across the image.)
      • 0% Hg –  the elemental symbol for Mercury,  (Or it may have the words “no Mercury” or “no Hg”.)
      • 0% Cd –  the elemental symbol for Cadmium.   (Or it may have the words “no Cadmium” or “no Cd”.)
      • “No Hg and Cd” or the printing may say “No Mercury & No Cadmium” or some other version of these words.

IF YOU SEE NONE OF THESE WORDS (above, under “ALKALINE”) PRINTED ON THE BATTERY, then separately bag it, zip the top closed, and treat it as a non-alkaline battery (see instructions below).

PKG Recycleaboe BatteriesNON-ALKALINE:  There are MANY different kinds of Non-alkaline household batteries.  Often, but not always, these batteries have the word “Recyclable” printed on the battery.  Currently, a non-alkaline battery will contain one of the following toxic chemicals: Mercury (Hg), Cadmium (Cd), Lithium (Li), or Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), and such a battery will (hopefully) have one of these words or symbols printed on the battery.  Non-alkaline batteries are almost always RECHARGEABLE, but some alkaline batteries may also be rechargeable, so the word “rechargeable” should not be used to identify non-alkaline batteries.  Instead, look for one of the bold-faced chemical-element words shown in the previous sentence.

Non-Alkaline batteries are the most dangerous type of battery to store and transport for two reasons.  First, the chemical elements they contain are  highly reactive and very toxic and should not be placed in a landfill so as to eventually  contaminate our air, soil, and water.  Second,  these chemical elements are capable of reacting with one another and causing explosions and fire if the batteries are not handled properly.

Preventing explosions & fires in trucks transporting non-alkaline batteries to a recycling facility is easy!  SIMPLY FIND A SMALL, ZIP-LOCK PLASTIC BAG, AND PLACE EACH NON-ALKALINE BATTERY INSIDE AND ZIP IT UP TIGHT.   The plastic bag will prevent the terminals of the bagged battery from touching an other metal and forming a spark that may well ignite the battery fumes during transport, and the tightly zipped bag will prevent the toxic fumes from reacting with those from other batteries and forming a flammable or explosive mixture.  PLEASE BAG AND SEAL EACH USED NON-ALKALINE BATTERY EACH TIME YOU HAVE ONE FOR RECYCLING.  That way it will take no time at all, and volunteers will not need to sort and separately bag each of the hundreds of non-alkaline batteries that are left in the bins at the YMCA or Downtown Merchants for recycling.

Button BatteriesALKALINE:  “Button” batteries look like those in the photo on the right.  They are often used in hearing aids, watches, and other small electronic devices.  Button batteries usually contain no markings except which side is electrically positive and which is negative.  Even the packaging may not give the chemical contents of the batteries.  We have been told that ALL button batteries contain one of the toxic chemical elements listed in the “Non-Alkaline” paragraph above.  BUT, EACH DOES NOT NEED TO BE PLACED IN A SEPARATE SEALED PLASTIC BAG!  Personal at MRSWA have told us that a “handful” can be placed together into a small, zip-lockable plastic SNACK BAG.


  1. Alkaline batteries do not need to have their terminals taped nor to they need to be placed into a plastic bag.   Simply accumulate them together into a small box or other container with all of your other used batteries being collected for recycling.
  2.  Non-Alkaline batteries should be separately bagged and sealed in an appropriately sized plastic bag, then placed into the same container used to collect your used household batteries.
  3. Button batteries can be placed together in zip-locked plastic bag (about a handful per “snack” bag) and stored together in your container that is holding your other used batteries.
  4. Frequently take your used household batteries to a local recycling station such as the YMCA.  Do not store your used batteries for long periods of time (beyond 6 to 12 months) — beyond that time they may begin to leak and harm your container and whatever it sits upon.



Used car or motorcycle batteries.  You may recycle all lead-acid batteries at Advanced Auto.

Used fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).  Recycle these at Heavener Hardware in Blacksburg, or at Lowe’s or Home Depot in Christiansburg.

Used printer cartridges.  Recycle these at Eats Natural Foods, or at Office Max or Staples in Christiansburg.