Battery Recycling Program

In 2012, Durham Region initiated a one-year curbside battery recycling pilot program. The pilot consisted of two curbside collection services – one in November 2012 and another in March 2013.

Based on the success of the pilot program, Regional Council adopted this waste diversion program and made it permanent on September 18, 2013.

Battery Bags

In addition to providing residents with a more convenient and accessible option for proper household battery disposal, the program aims to eliminate mercury, cadmium, and other heavy metals from being dispersed into the environment.

Instead, they are actively managed in Ontario and recycled responsibly through proper processing and conservation of valuable resources. Collected batteries are sent to Raw Materials Company where zinc, manganese, potassium and steel are recovered and recycled safely.

Level of Service

Durham's household battery collection program is provided twice annually; once in the spring and once in the fall coinciding with Earth Week celebrations and the autumn Fire Department's promotion to change smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

Curbside Battery Collection Schedule

Note: These are special one-week collection periods. Please do not place household batteries in your blue box, or garbage at any other time. If you miss the collection dates or do not receive curbside blue box collection, visit the Regional Waste Management Facility page or our Community Events page for a recycling location and/or collection events near you.

Curbside Collection Results

Durham's household battery collection program is convenient and accessible for our residents. The success of our diversion programs is based on the commitment of our residents to actively participate in our waste diversion programs.

The following tracking table indicates the success of the program since our first collection in the fall of 2012:

Year Season Collection Period Net Weight (Tonnes) Net Weight (Kilograms) Total Tonnes Collected To Date
2012 Fall November 12 to 16 22.46 22,462 22.46
2013 Spring March 18 to 22 13.71 13,709 36.17
2013 Fall November 4 to 8 10.19 10,191 46.36
2014 Spring April 21 to 25 14.04 14,037 60.40
2014 Fall November 3 to 7 18.04 18,040 78.44
2015 Spring April 20 to 24 16.40 16,400 94.84
2015 Fall November 2 to 6 17.34 17,340 112.18
2016 Spring April 18 to 22 Pending Pending Pending
2016 Fall November 7 to 11 Pending Pending Pending
2017 Spring April 17 to 21 Pending Pending Pending
2017 Fall November 6 to 10 Pending Pending Pending

Collection Bag Instructions and Labelling

Residents use their own, sealable, transparent bags to participate in the curbside battery collection program.

Orange labels with instructions on how to participate in the program are included in the annual waste management calendar.

Residents may also download and print the below label before inserting it inside their sealable, transparent bag for collection.

Battery Collection Label
Click here for printable image

Setting out Household Batteries

Batteries set out for collection

To easily identify the collection bags, and not allow them to get mixed into the regular Blue Box recycling stream, residents are asked to place battery collection bags on top of their paper fibre container to reduce the risk of batteries getting lost amongst the container stream.

Safe Storage

Batteries should be stored in a cool, dry location, away from any flammable material. During storage, battery terminals should not be in contact with conductive materials. The terminals on nine volt batteries, in particular, should be covered prior to storage. For more information about preparing batteries for recycling please visit http://www.rawmaterials.com/page/education/prepare-batteries.

Battery Types Accepted

Due to regulatory requirements, only undamaged household, batteries are acceptable for curbside collection. Residents with damaged, leaking or wet cell batteries (such as automotive), should place the batteries in a leak-proof container and deliver them to a Regional Waste Management Facility for recycling.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I recycle batteries?

Battery recycling is important to reduce soil contamination and water pollution, which can occur if these products are improperly disposed. Batteries also contain valuable commodities that can be effectively recycled, reducing demand for virgin metals.

What kinds of batteries are accepted for the curbside collection?

What kinds of batteries are not accepted?

These batteries are accepted at any Regional Waste Management Facility

How do I store my batteries?

Batteries should be stored in a cool, dry location, away from any flammable material, prior to disposal. During storage, battery terminals should not be in contact with conductive materials. The terminals on nine volt batteries, in particular, should be covered prior to storage. For more information about preparing batteries for recycling please visit http://www.rawmaterials.com/page/education/prepare-batteries.

Is this curbside program available to residents living in apartment buildings?

Yes, Durham Region operates a multi-residential battery recycling program in some buildings that receive municipal waste collection services. For more information, visit the Apartment and Townhouse Recycling Program page.

Alternately, residents are encouraged to visit www.makethedrop.ca to find the nearest battery recycling drop off location.

How does Durham collect household batteries?

Depending on the type of collection equipment being used by Durham's collection contractors, household batteries are collected at the back of the truck on rear loading vehicles and inside the cab of the truck on side loading vehicles. Household batteries are segregated from collection and placed inside 20L pails. Once the pails are filled up, the Route Supervisor is notified and the full pail is switched with an empty one.

What happens to the batteries after they are collected?

All batteries received by Raw Materials Company Inc.'s (RMC) processing facility in Port Colborne, Ontario are sorted by type and then recycled to recover reusable components including steel, zinc, manganese, potassium and other commodities.

Zinc, manganese and potassium are all natural earth elements and are necessary for life. Each of these elements plays a key role in promoting healthy plant growth and is found naturally in the soil and used in commercial fertilizers.

100% of the zinc, manganese and potassium is recovered and used as a premium micro-nutrient to grow corn - an originally intended application.

The use of RMC micro-nutrients increases corn yields by 20 bushels per acre. This is important considering the world's growing population.

Approximately 25% of an alkaline battery is made up of steel and nickel. Through our mechanical process, 100% of the steel and nickel is recovered and sold back into the local market as a premium product in the production of new metals.

RMC, an international leader in the field of waste and resource recycling, are the only approved battery processor for Ontario's Municipal Hazardous and Special Waste Program. RMC's battery recycling technology is capable of recycling and recovering up to 92 per cent of the components found in spent household batteries.

Will you be distributing the original battery bags before each collection period?

No. A significant change with the permanent program addresses the cost and logistics of distributing custom battery bags. Instead of providing specialized bags to residents, two sticker labels are included in the annual Waste Management Calendars. Residents are instructed to peel and stick the labels to their own sealable bags and place the filled battery bag on top of their blue box (paper fibres) for curbside collection.

Is there a special bag that I have to use to participate?

Residents are to use their own, sealable, transparent bags to participate in the curbside battery collection program.

Do I have to use a Ziploc® brand bag?

No. There are a number of options for sealable bags at retail stores. Residents use their own, sealable, transparent bags to participate in the curbside battery collection program.

I don't have any sealable bags. Can I use a food and beverage container?

Durham Region prefers that residents use their own, sealable, labelled, transparent bags to set-out their household batteries. Using food and beverage containers hinders the debagging process at our facility.

Do I have to put the label on my sealable bag for collection?

Residents are instructed to peel and stick the labels found in their annual Waste Management Calendar and place them on their own sealable bags. Then, place the battery bag on top of their blue box (paper fibres) for curbside collection. The brightly coloured label helps collection staff easily identify battery bags.

I don't have a printer to print the label. What should I do?

Contact Durham Region's Waste Management Centre at 1-800-667-5671 or e-mail waste@durham.ca to request a battery collection label. Staff will mail you one.

How do I attach the label to my sealable bag for collection?

Peel and stick the label from your Waste Management Calendar on the outside of your sealable bag. If you have printed the label from our web site, place the label inside your sealable bag facing up. Place your sealable bag out for collection on top of your blue box (paper fibres) for curbside collection.

Do you accept car batteries in the program?

No. Automotive (such as motorcycle, lawnmower, snowmobile, boat and marine, scooter, RV and motorhome) batteries are not acceptable for curbside collection. Automotive batteries create a health and safety issue to collection staff and operational practices as batteries can split open leaking acid. Automotive batteries should be taken to a Regional Waste Management Facility for recycling. 100 per cent loads of Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste are exempt from disposal fees.

Can I include "Dry" home security batteries?

Yes. Home security batteries that will fit inside a clear, sealable, plastic bag are acceptable in the curbside battery collection program. The positive and negative terminals need to be taped down before they are set-out for collection. Residents with damaged, leaking or wet cell batteries (such as automotive), should place the batteries in a leak-proof container and delivered to a Regional Waste Management Facility for recycling. 100 per cent loads of Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste are exempt from disposal fees.

What about compact fluorescent light (CFLs) bulbs?

CFLs are not acceptable for curbside battery collection. CFLs should be taken to a Regional Waste Management Facility for recycling. 100 per cent loads of Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste are exempt from disposal fees.

What if I have too many batteries to set-out for collection?

There is no limit to the amount of household batteries that can be set-out for collection in clear, labelled, sealable plastic bags.

How do I prepare my batteries for recycling?

Batteries should be stored in a cool, dry location, away from any flammable material. During storage, battery terminals should not be in contact with conductive materials. The terminals on nine volt batteries, in particular, should be covered prior to storage. For more information on preparing batteries, visit http://www.rawmaterials.com/page/education/prepare-batteries.

Where can I take my batteries if I forget to put them out on my designated collection day?

If you forget to set out your batteries for collection on your designated collection day, you can take them to one of the many collection sites in Durham Region that are open year-round. Visit the Raw Materials Company (RMC) webpage and type in your postal code for locations.

Guinness World Records® Award

Guiness Record

To raise awareness, participation and to maximize the “buzz” surrounding Durham’s new battery collection program, Durham Region contacted Guinness World Records® to inquire if a record exists for the most batteries collected.

Guinness World Records® advised that the current record for the most batteries collected in a 24-hour period at a single location, was 181 kilograms (400 lbs 14 oz). With this information, Durham planned its own record breaking attempt for Thursday, November 15, 2012.

Durham’s Guinness World Records® official claim was for 5,090 kilograms (11,221 lbs 8 oz) which is the gross weight of batteries; 5,120 kilograms (11,287.7 lbs) less the weight of the zip-lock bags; 30 kilograms (66.1 lbs).

On February 2, 2013, Guinness World Records® confirmed that the Regional Municipality of Durham is now the official holder of the world record for the Most Batteries Collected in 24 Hours at One Location.