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Battery Recycling Tips

How to Recycle Your Car Battery to Protect Environment

What can you do? Well, for starters, please don't just toss your old car battery into that bin with your household recyclables and leave it on the curb. An automotive battery, also referred to as a lead-acid battery, contains about 21 pounds of lead, three pounds of plastic and one gallon of sulfuric acid. These items can be toxic if handled improperly, and there is a better solution.

Bring your old lead-acid batteries to the AAA Great Battery Roundup®. Roundups are held annually in the United States and Canada to commemorate Earth Day. Ask your local AAA/CAA office for particulars.

When a spent battery is recycled, all elements can be reclaimed and reused in new batteries. The lead, for example, is nearly 100 percent recyclable, and usually finds its way back into new batteries over and over again. Plastic components also can be reclaimed to create new batteries and other products. The sulfuric acid can be recycled and used in new batteries; it can be neutralized, purified and tested before being released as clean water; or it can be converted to sodium sulfate, a product used in fertilizer, dyes and other products.

If you're not a do-it-yourself type, seek out automotive repair businesses that make it a practice to recycle. Even if the laws in your state require it, ask. Lead-acid battery recycling laws have been passed in 36 states. Most laws require buyers of new lead-acid batteries to turn in the spent one at the time of purchase, or pay a deposit.

Each year, AAA handles some 5 million road service calls in North America for battery-related issues. With the advent of a new mobile battery service, there is now a new option for members who want an "on the go" solution to a dead battery. The AAA Battery Service, available in most municipal areas in North America, can now test, diagnose and replace batteries on the spot for members. And this mobile tech force is responsible for recycling an additional 180,000 batteries in 2003. For every battery replaced, the old one is recycled as a matter of course. Simply put, each time a AAA technician installs a battery, the old one is returned to the manufacturer for recycling.

As our vehicle buying habits change in the future, we must adapt our practices to ensure that highly corrosive and potentially hazardous automotive components are dealt with responsibly. It's up to consumers, retailers and the battery industry to maximize the highly recyclable nature of lead-acid batteries. Vehicles that last longer will need more battery replacements. Increasingly common hybrid vehicles require even more powerful battery sources. As we charge into what is sure to be an exciting automotive technology future, AAA wants to help ensure battery recycling is done almost as routinely as taking out the trash.

To learn more about the AAA Battery Service and the Great Battery Roundup, call your AAA office or visit