Batteries Recycling and usage tips
New EU rules were introduced on 1 February 2010, requiring all shops selling 32kg or more of household batteries to offer free battery-recycling collection points. In practice, this means that any shop selling the equivalent of one four-pack of AA batteries per day must offer recycling facilities.
Supermarkets, drugstores and general electrical stores should now be offering battery recycling, so always ask instore if you're looking to safely dispose of your rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries. Some workplaces (including here at Which?) operate battery recycling schemes.
The EU Directive has set a battery recycling target for 2016 of 45%, with an interim target of 25% by 2012. And according to the Environment Agency we are getting closer to this target – 16.15% of batteries were recycled in the second quarter of 2010 compared to 9.15% in the first quarter
For more about recycling, see our essential recycling guide. We've also reviewed and rated the best and worst rechargeable batteries, that don't need to be thrown away after one use. Which? members have full access to all of our reviews - log in now if you're already a member or try Which? for £1 to get instant access to our site.
Tips on getting the best from your batteries
- Always follow the instructions on the packet – and the instructions of the device in which you're using your batteries.
- Check the contacts of both your device and your batteries to make sure they are clean. If necessary, clean them with a damp cloth and then dry thoroughly.
- If your device won’t be used for a long time, remove the batteries.
- When batteries have run flat, remove them and dispose of them responsibly. Do not try to recharge disposables and don’t burn or physically damage any type of battery.
- Don’t be tempted to mix part-used and new batteries in the same device. The new batteries will treat the old ones as part of the ‘load’ and will try to recharge them, potentially causing leakage and damage.
- Avoid carrying loose batteries in a pocket or purse with metal objects such as coins or paper clips. These can short-circuit the battery, leading to high temperatures or leakage.
- High temperatures and humidity can shorten a battery’s shelf life. It helps to keep batteries cool, but you needn’t refrigerate them.
- Don’t allow children to play with batteries.
- Buy multipacks. If you can, buy your batteries in bulk as it will save you money. Unused disposable batteries last five years with very little energy loss.