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How To Dispose of RV and Boat Lithium Batteries Properly

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Today we’re taking a look at how to dispose of lithium batteries properly. Lithium batteries are growing in popularity and are becoming the battery of choice for RVers and boaters. Therefore, it’s essential to take care of your lithium batteries during their functional lifecycle, and also once they reach their end of life.

But, unfortunately, not many people know how to dispose of lithium batteries properly. So let’s dig in to learn how!

colorful batteries in a recycling bin

How to Dispose of Lithium Batteries from your RV or Boat

Lithium batteries in boats and RVs usually last for a long time, ten years or more in most cases. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. When your lithium batteries reach the end of their life, it’s relatively easy to dispose of them.

The first step is to remove your batteries from your RV or boat. Usually, this just means disconnecting the cabling from the battery terminals and lifting them out. Luckily, lithium batteries weigh about half of what lead-acid batteries do, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble.

After you’ve removed your dead batteries, we recommend you recycle them. It’s best not to throw away or recycle your lithium batteries with regular household trash and recycling. Instead, find a hazardous waste or designated lithium battery recycling location. Then, package your worn-out battery as they suggest.

Most recycling centers will ask that you cover each terminal with non-conductive tape, like electrical tape, then place the battery in a plastic bag. In addition, you will need to label all packages appropriately.

Are Lithium Batteries Hazardous Waste?

There are different types of lithium batteries with different chemical compositions. Depending on the type, they may be considered hazardous waste. Additionally, if a lithium battery still has some charge left, it can pose a fire hazard. So taking these batteries to a recycling center is the only safe solution for disposal.

hazardous waste bin
Some lithium batteries are more hazardous than others, but all lead-acid batteries are considered hazardous.

Here at Battle Born Batteries, we pride ourselves on the fact that we make all our cells from non-hazardous materials. Our battery cells are composed of lithium iron phosphate powder. Compared to lead-acid batteries, the cells used in Battle Born Batteries are non-hazardous and once discharged pose very little environmental risk.

Can You Recycle Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Lithium batteries can and should be, disposed of by recycling them. The main reason you should recycle lithium batteries is that the raw materials in them are considered “critical” and are in limited supply from the earth. There are no substitutes. So reusing graphite, cobalt, and lithium to create new energy storage is not only good practice but essential for these types of batteries to be available in the future. 

To recycle lithium, you should take your batteries to a recycling facility specializing in handling them.

How To Find Where To Dispose of Lithium Batteries Near You

Certified battery electronic recyclers take in used batteries from electronic devices that are hard to separate from their hardware. But with RV and boat batteries, pulling a lithium battery out is relatively simple. Luckily, there are several options for recycling these easily separated batteries. 

The easiest option is to return your lithium batteries to where you purchased them. Battery retailers can facilitate the recycling of the batteries they sell. A few resources to find drop-off locations for lithium batteries are www.earth911.com or www.call2recycle.org/locator to dispose of your lithium batteries.

Can You Put Lithium Batteries in the Garbage?

Disposing of lithium batteries along with household garbage or in municipal recycling bins is not safe or smart.

Throwing your lithium batteries in with common trash could damage them, puncture them, overheat them, and cause them to catch fire. Additionally, when you throw away lithium batteries, all of the critical materials inside of them are lost forever.

full yellow trash bin

You should always dispose of your lithium batteries at a certified recycling center where the raw materials in the battery can be reused.

Are Lithium Batteries Environmentally-Friendly?

Unfortunately, mining the critical materials used in lithium batteries is not without its impact on the planet. The main concern is that mining lithium requires massive amounts of water which can cause droughts and water shortages for nearby populations. Luckily, mining companies are inventing new technologies that will significantly reduce the water needed for lithium mining operations.

Many would argue that the benefits of lithium batteries outweigh the environmental impact of extracting the critical materials. However, lithium batteries last 5-10 times longer than lead-acid or AGM batteries and use over 100 times less lithium material than lead for a comparable amount of energy you get. Additionally, you can discharge lithium batteries almost 100% before needing a recharge. These benefits translate into less use of fossil fuels required to do the same amount of work.

hands holding a clip art green battery

Lifespan of Deep Cycle Lithium Batteries

Battle Born lithium batteries can last much longer than 10 years when operated properly. In fact, we stand behind our lithium batteries with a 10-year warranty. Additionally, we design our batteries to last 3,000 – 5,000 charge cycles at full discharge, which is 5-10 times as many as a typical lead-acid battery.

With lighter discharges, 10,000 or more cycles are possible. This is 10+ years at a daily full discharge or over 20 years with daily lighter use! The endpoint for these calculations is 80% of the original capacity, so the battery will still be usable, just with lesser capacity.

Recycling Lithium Batteries Is A Win-Win

Understanding how to dispose of lithium batteries properly is critical as they continue to grow in popularity. Not only do lithium batteries pose a hazard if you dispose of them incorrectly, but by not recycling them, we lose critical resources from our planet forever.

Recycling your lithium batteries guarantees that future generations can continue to enjoy the benefits of lithium batteries and we minimize the environmental impact on our planet.

Want To Learn More About Electrical Systems and Lithium Batteries?

We know that building or upgrading an electrical system can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help. Our Reno, Nevada-based sales and customer service team is standing by at (855) 292-2831 to take your questions!

Also, join us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to learn more about how lithium battery systems can power your lifestyle, see how others have built their systems, and gain the confidence to get out there and stay out there.

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