Proper battery disposal lowers fire and safety risks

While some batteries are safe to put in the trash others such as lithium batteries can cause fires when improperly disposed of, Otter Tail County says.

Proper battery disposal is critical, as the amount of battery-powered devices continues to increase, specifically lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are the leading cause of fires at waste and recycling facilities, and it is important that Otter Tail County residents dispose of batteries properly to prevent fires and to protect infrastructure and staff, a news release from Otter Tail County said.

Battery disposal can be confusing, as different types of batteries need to be handled differently. Some of the most confusing batteries for consumers are alkaline batteries, like the common AA batteries many consumers use for remotes or flashlights, and lithium batteries which are increasingly common in a wide range of sizes and devices. A near-miss lithium battery incident at the Fergus Falls Transfer Station this year indicates that consumers need more information to take charge of proper battery disposal.

Alkaline batteries are safe to put in the garbage. While takeback programs exist in some places, alkaline batteries contain no toxic substances and can be safely put with household garbage. Otter Tail County Household Hazardous Waste does not accept alkaline batteries.

Lithium batteries: Bring to Household Hazardous Waste for free, safe disposal and never put with household garbage or recycling. Lithium batteries can be button batteries, rechargeable tool battery packs, cellphone batteries, or batteries found in vaping devices. Most lithium batteries are marked as such.

“We consistently see people saving alkaline batteries when they don’t need to and discarding other batteries when they should save them and bring them to Household Hazardous Waste. If a battery is rechargeable, it is especially important to keep it out of your trash and recycling bins," Household Hazardous Waste Manager Nick Heeter said.


The Household Hazardous Waste Facility is located at 1115 North Tower Road, Fergus Falls.

For more information about the Household Hazardous Waste Program and to view or print a battery disposal fact sheet please visit or call 218-998-8950.

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