Battery Safety

All batteries are recycled at UVM.  Batteries are to be disposed of as Universal Waste or as a EPA/RCRA hazardous waste under the requirements contained in 40 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations).

Batteries: Basic Safety Practices

  • Use the correct SIZE and TYPE of battery specified by the specific manufacturer of your device.
  • Download or contact the manufacturer to get the specific Safety Data Sheet for the battery you are using. Review and understand the hazards of the battery before using, storing or charging.
  • Be prepared! Check the fire extinguisher in your area to make sure it can extinguish a potential battery fire of the batteries with which you are working.
  • Contact UVM Life Safety if you need help determining which Fire Extinguisher is appropriate.

 

 

Battery Buckets and Techno Trash Outlets

Safe Charging of Batteries

UVM Battery Disposal Procedure

Specific Battery Types and Information

 

 


Battery Buckets and Techno Trash Outlets

Brown battery buckets and Techno-trash outlets are scattered throughout offices and high traffic areas on campus for the collection of assorted (small) batteries. These campus battery collection areas are for UVM-generated batteries only. If you would like a battery bucket in your area to collect assorted batteries in your office area, contact UVM Recycling or call 656-5731. 

NOTE: Never bring batteries in to work from home to recycle; take household-generated batteries to your local Solid Waste District drop off location or a hazardous waste collection day.


Safe Charging of Batteries


  • Never charge a battery overnight or unattended. 
  • Use only the charger recommended by the battery manufacturer. 
  • Minimize the storage of combustible materials, such as wood and cardboard, in battery charging areas. 
  • Batteries should be charged on surfaces such as cement, steel, ceramic or stone. Wooden tables, workbenches, paper and carpeted floors are NOT recommended charging surfaces.
  • Never leave a battery in the charger once it is fully charged. Overcharging batteries will not increase the performance and can lead to damage, such as swelling and rupturing.

  • Never charge a battery which has been physically dropped or damaged. An unseen fracture in the encasement can cause the battery to catch fire or explode while charging.

 


UVM Battery Disposal Procedure

Full Battery buckets  

Submit an online laboratory waste tag when your battery bucket is full. Use the same lab waste disposal procedure that is used for chemical waste containers. Tips for properly filling out a waste tag for a full battery bucket is shown below.

  • The description of the waste can be listed as "Assorted Batteries"
  • The % can be listed as 100%.  
  • Amount = Estimate the weight of the batteries and list it on the tag in "pounds (lbs) ". 

Laboratory waste tags can be found at various locations around campus.

Safety staff pick up lab waste, including batteries, on campus 2-3x per week.  If you need some waste tags, contact safety@uvm.edu and we can send you some tags via campus mail.

Techno-trash Outlet is Full

If the techno trash bin in your area is full, submit a Famis Work Order request  or contact UVM Recycling to pickup these materials.  

 

 

 


Need information about Specific Battery Types?

Alkaline Batteries

Nickel-Cadmium (Nicad) Batteries

Lithium Batteries

 

Lead Acid Batteries

 

Charging Batteries Safely

 

Emergency Response: Do you have the correct Fire Extinguisher nearby?

 


 

Alkaline Batteries

 

Never refrigerate alkaline batteries. It is a myth that this makes them last longer.

 

Keep alkaline battery contact surfaces and battery compartment contacts clean by storing them in the packaging that they came in or rub them with a clean pencil eraser or a rough cloth before you replace batteries.

 

Remove alkaline batteries from a device when it is not expected to be in used for several months.


Nickel-Cadmium (Nicad) Batteries 

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries self-discharge at a faster rate than alkaline batteries.  At typical room temperature (~70 degrees F) NiMH and NiCD batteries will self discharge a few percent per day.

Storing these types of batteries at cooler temperatures will slow their self discharge rate dramatically and reduce how much they self discharge. NiMH batteries stored at freezing temperatures will retain over 90% of their charge for full month.  Bring the batteries back to room temperature before using them.  

Store in a secondary container and label and date them appropriately.


Lithium Batteries      

There are several types of lithium batteries. Often one will see Lithium polymer (LiPo) or Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. Lithium ion are some of the most common rechargeable batteries in use today.

 

Lithium cells are like any other technology – if they are abused and not used for their intended purpose catastrophic results may occur, such as: first-, second-, and third-degree burns, respiratory problems, fires, explosions, and even death. Please handle the lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries with utmost care and respect.

 

Download the information about Lithium Polymer batteries here.

 

Cell phones, laptop computers, GPS systems, iPods, and even cars are now using lithium-ion rechargeable battery technology. 
 

Custom-built battery packs come with increased risks. Anyone  building, storing or charging battey packs are required to have a high hazard assessment by Safety staff. Written safety procedures and documented emergency procedures must be in place before use.  

 
Charging Lithium Batteries

LipoSacks are a newly marketed item that may reduce the risk of a lithium battery fire. Not all LiPo Sacks are created equal!  They may prevent a fire but it will not eliminate smoke should the battery catch fire or overheat while charging.  

As with any battery, never charge a lithium battery overnight or unattended. Lithium batteries have been known to overheat without much warning, especially if they have been dropped or if the outer encasement is unknowingly cracked.  Contact  Safety staff to schedule a Hazard Assessment.


 

Lead Acid Batteries

Large batteries, such as Lead Acid batteries, should also be tagged for pickup and disposal. Please fill out a Laboratory Waste Tag and submit the tag online. Waste tags can be found at various locations around campus.

Increased ventilation may be necessary when storing or charging large amounts of lead acid batteries. Contact Safety staff if you would like to schedule a hazard assessment. 

This site has additional information about Safe Charging of Lead Acid Batteries.