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Charge Ahead with Battery Recycling

May 2021 - You may have noticed a common theme if you’ve read our paint and electronics blog articles: some household hazardous waste (HHW), such as these items, are recyclable. Batteries are no exception!


History and Product Stewardship

The first true battery was invented in 1800 by Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist who layered copper and zinc discs on top of one another separated by salt-soaked cardboard. Since then, battery technology has evolved to satisfy seemingly limitless applications in a variety of chemistries. The two main types of batteries are primary (single-use) and rechargeable. Batteries are everywhere: lead-acid batteries in vehicles; lithium-ion batteries in laptop computers (and in electric vehicles); and alkaline batteries in most portable electronic devices.

In the early days of HHW (1980s), batteries were viewed as a “special waste” due to their mercury content. Later, manufacturers introduced cadmium (another heavy metal) into battery technology which drew concern over negative impacts to human health if improperly disposed. Prompted by eight state laws with take-back requirements for nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries, European pressure to ban cadmium, and comprehensive legislation in Minnesota and New Jersey, the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) was formed in 1994. The RBRC initially managed a program for the collection and recycling of Ni-Cd, which expanded to all small rechargeable batteries in 2001, and added used cell phones in 2004. In CA, the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act of 2006banned all household batteries from commercial landfills and required retailers to take back rechargeable batteries at no cost to consumers. Alkaline batteries used to contain mercury, but the Battery Act of 1996 eliminated mercury from battery design. The RBRC rebranded to Call2Recycle and more than 300 battery and battery-powered product manufacturers today fund its activities. Call2Recycle has collected over 131 million lbs.[1] of batteries in the United States since it was created.

Why should batteries be recycled?

When batteries reach the end of life it is very important not to throw them in the trash. Batteries are banned from landfill disposal in California because they contain potentially toxic chemicals such as cadmium and lead that could leak out of landfills and pollute the environment. Recycling batteries allows for valuable materials, particularly metals, to be recovered, minimizing the need to mine virgin material. Lastly, batteries present safety risks to people, property, and the environment if improperly handled, stored, or disposed. If tossed in the trash, batteries can overheat or short circuit and cause fires, which is especially true for lithium-based batteries.

Where can I recycle my batteries?

In transporting your batteries to one of the many collection sites in Thousand Oaks, safety regulations require that battery terminals for certain battery types are protected from contacting each other. Please tape the ends of batteries or individually bag them to prevent short circuiting if they come into contact with each other or with metal objects.

Bring your batteries to one of the locations below.

  • Retail take-back (rechargeable batteries and cell phones only)
  • Home Depot (no cell phones)
  • Municipal sites
    • Borchard Community Park -Front Entrance
    • Dos Vientos Community Center - Front Lobby (next to front desk)
    • Goebel Adult Center - Front Lobby
    • Grant R. Brimhall Library - Children's Entrance & Adult Entrance
    • Newbury Park Library - Front Entrance
    • Thousand Oaks City Hall - Front Entrance
    • Thousand Oaks Community Center - Front Entrance
    • Thousand Oaks Transportation Center - Lobby
    • Thousand Oaks HHW Facility

 For more information visit or the City’s Battery Recycling webpage.

[1] Data provided by Sean Finney, Western Regional Program Manager, Call2Recycle

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