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Chemical Waste Disposal


Battery Recycling Program

Alkaline batteries are not rechargeable and do not contain any hazardous materials.  From a life cycle and energy analysis, recycling an alkaline battery is more environmentally detrimental than disposing of it directly in the trash.  Princeton University follows this guideline and does not recycle alkaline batteries.  Please help our building services staff and discard of these items directly in the trash.

Used batteries containing hazardous metals (e.g. mercury, cadmium, lead, and silver) are classified as universal waste rather than hazardous waste. This allows Princeton to recycle the batteries, while continuing to ensure that the batteries are handled in an environmentally sound manner. Lead-acid batteries are also recycled.

Building Services administers a collection program to encourage this recycling effort. Receptacles for Nickel-Cadmium, Nickel-Metal Hydride, Lithium, Lithium-ion, Mercury and Silver batteries have been placed in the stockrooms at Frick, Engineering Quad, Lewis Thomas Lab and Physics.  Containers for additional areas are available through Building Services at 8-3490.  Batteries also may be brought to the Building Services Administrative Offices at 228 Alexander St.

Packaging for Disposal

To guard against possible short circuiting, the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (established by battery manufacturers) recommends you do at least one of the following to prepare batteries for recycling:
  1. Discharge Cells: This should be done only by a knowledgeable engineer or technician. Consult your battery supplier for instructions on how to discharge cells completely and properly.
  2. Terminal Protection: If you cannot assure that the cells have been completely discharged, then cover the terminals of each battery with non-conductive tape.
  3. Place in a Plastic Bag: Batteries may be placed separately in plastic bags so the terminals will not come in contact with other batteries or metal during storage or transport.
  4. Package batteries so that terminals will not short-circuit during storage or transport.

It is important to note that this program is intended only for batteries generated from University operations. Individuals should continue to use curbside recycling, household hazardous waste days, and purchase/exchange programs for the disposal of personal batteries. Questions concerning this program should be directed to Building Services at 8-3490.  Containers for additional battery categories will be added as dictated by demand.

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are collected separately by the University and sent to a recycler. Four main collection points exist for convenient dropoff of fully discharged lead/acid batteries.

  • Frick Chemistry stockroom (basement level)
  • Jadwin Physics stockroom (room A01)
  • SEAS loading dock
  • Lewis Thomas Lab Loading Dock (contact dock staff or Mike Fredericks to access the drum)
  • Carl Icahn Lab Loading Dock (contact Deborah Grant to access the drum)

The containers are bright blue plastic and well labeled as lead/acid battery recycling containers.

Contact EHS at 258-5294 for more information.


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