With growing concern surrounding lithium-ion batteries — particularly cheaper, uncertified ones — in light of several recent fatal fires they have caused, Queens residents may be looking to get rid of any unwanted ones they may have in their homes.
Lithium-ion batteries are used in a variety of rechargeable products, ranging from smaller items like phones, laptops and electric toothbrushes to larger ones such as e-bikes, hoverboards and other small vehicles.
But given the fire risk they pose, disposing of lithium-ion batteries is not so simple; they cannot be thrown in the garbage like run-of-the-mill alkaline batteries, and unlike old computers, televisions and other electronics, they are often not accepted at the average e-waste collection drive.
Arguably the easiest way to recycle lithium-ion batteries is to bring them to a store that sells them or products containing them. Hardware stores, office supply stores, drug stores or electronic stores are likely your best bet.
According to the Department of Sanitation website, stores that sell lithium-ion batteries or items that use them are legally required to accept them for recycling, though they do not need to accept any that weigh more than 25 pounds, per the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Should you go to a store that says otherwise, notify the DEC either online at dec.ny.gov/regulations/393.html or by calling 1 (844) DEC-ECOS (332-3267).
Stores have discretion when it comes to accepting electronics, however, including ones they do not sell, according to a DSNY spokesperson.
That comes into play when it relates to the function and size of the battery — in this case, size matters. According to call2recycle.org — where the city lists drop-off sites — there are 23 different Queens stores that accept most rechargeable batteries. Far fewer, however, take e-bike batteries. Only six stores will accept those, and none of them are east of the Van Wyck Expressway. Plus, those stores will not recycle batteries from all brands of e-bikes. You can check to see if yours will be accepted at call2recycle.org/e-bike-voluntary-stewards. But if you bought one from an uncommon brand on Amazon, you might just be out of luck.
Though most e-waste events do not take lithium-ion batteries, the city has begun organizing events specifically designed for more sensitive materials, known as Solvents, Automotive, Flammables, and Electronics — or “SAFE” — disposal events. Those are scheduled during the spring and fall throughout the city.
At the moment, though, only one has been slated for the World’s Borough. That will take place in the Astoria Park parking lot on Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details on events in other boroughs, visit nyc.gov/assets/dsny/site/services/harmful-products/safe-disposal.
The last option available to residents is to drop off lithium-ion batteries directly at a Special Waste Drop-Off Site. In Queens, there is only one: That’s located in College Point, at 30th Avenue between 120th and 122nd streets. Items should be brought to the northwest corner of the DSNY District 7 Queens garage.
Though more frequent than SAFE disposal events, drop-off services are not available at all times. The College Point facility collects items for disposal, lithium-ion batteries included, every Saturday and the last Friday of the month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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