How do I dispose of a swollen cell phone battery?


This is very important because batteries contain hazardous materials like acid and heavy metals that can present serious environmental risks. This is why they must be properly discarded.

It is important we all take care to protect the planet. Casual disposal of batteries and other hazardous chemicals can be dangerous to the land and the air we all breathe.

How to Remove and Dispose of a Swollen Battery

Although lithium-ion batteries generally don’t fail catastrophically and hurt anyone, you still need to treat them with the kind of respect could-explode-and-burn-you objects deserve.

Do Not Charge or Use the Device

Once you notice the battery is swollen or compromised in any way, you should immediately stop using the device. Turn the power off, and above all else, do not charge the device. Once the battery has reached such a point of failure that the battery is swollen, you must assume that all safety mechanisms in the battery are offline. Charging a swollen battery is literally asking for it to turn into an exploding ball of noxious flammable gas right in your living room.

Remove the Battery

When it comes to removing the battery, there is one very important rule: don’t further compound the problem by compressing, distressing, or compromising the outer casing of the battery. If you puncture the swollen battery, you’re in for a bad time as the compounds inside will react with the oxygen and moisture in the air.

If your device is user-serviceable and you can easily open the case or a service panel to remove the battery, then doing so is in your best interest: it will prevent the expanding battery from (further) damaging your device and it will prevent any sharp edges inside the battery compartment from piercing the protective layer around the battery.

Once you have removed the battery, you should do two things immediately. First, insulate the contacts of the battery (if exposed) with a piece of electrical tape. The last thing you want is for something to short the terminals out. Second, store the battery in a dry cool place away from flammable things until you can safely transport it to a disposal facility.

If your device is not user-serviceable, and you can’t easily remove the battery, then you should take the device to a service location, specialty battery shop, or an authorized battery recycler (see below). There you should find someone with the tools/skills to help open your device and remove the damaged battery.

The same general rules apply even when you can’t remove the battery yourself: take the whole device and store it in a dry cool place to minimize any further degradation of the battery cells and keep it away from anything flammable.

Dispose of the Battery at an Authorized Recycling Center

Whether they are damaged or not, lithium-ion batteries should never, ever, be thrown away. Not only is the battery the kind of environmental hazard you don’t want sitting in a landfill, but even a brand new lithium-ion battery is a fire hazard if it is punctured or shorted out in the trash can or garbage truck. The risk of starting a fire in your own home and injuring yourself or starting a fire in a sanitation truck and injuring the workers is simply too high.

Lithium-ion batteries–new, used, or damaged–should only be disposed off via authorized recycling centers. To locate recycling centers near you, your best bet is to call your local city/county hazardous material disposal center.

When disposing of a swollen lithium-ion battery, we strongly encourage you to call ahead and ask if the facility is equipped to accept a damaged battery and to check what the protocol is for bringing the battery in. Do not simply toss a swollen battery into a general battery recycling bin at your local big-box electronics store.