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Disposal of Mercury-Containing Button Cell Batteries

Mercury was discontinued from regular alkaline batteries in 1996. Mercury is still used in button cell batteries in the types listed below. Do not place button cell batteries in the regular trash. It is recommended, to place the spent batteries in a sealed childproof container out of reach of children. Batteries are known to be a choking hazard. Contact your local municipality or solid waste district for guidance on disposal of all types of batteries, which some may be considered hazardous for reasons other than mercury content. Some pharmacies, nursing homes, audiologists and hearing aid dispensers offer free recycling.

The information provided below will:

Identifying Button Cell Batteries that Contain Mercury

The following types of button cell batteries contain mercury:

  • alkaline manganese
  • silver oxide
  • zinc-air
  • mercuric-oxide

Button cell batteries are typically used in items such as:

  • watches
  • hearing aids
  • calculators
  • pace makers
  • digital thermometers
  • bicycle odometer/speedometer
  • some children's toys and games

Alternatives Available

At this time, there are no button cell batteries sold in the United States that do not contain at least some amount of mercury.

Disposal Information


Households should dispose of button cell batteries at local household hazardous waste collection events sponsored by their local municipality or solid waste district.


The following disposal options are available to commercial/institutional generators of button cell batteries:

  • Small businesses may be able to dispose of button cell batteries and other mercury-containing devices at town or solid waste district collection events.
  • Direct shipment as "Universal Waste" to a mercury recycling facility.
  • Shipment through a hazardous waste transporter to a proper destination facility.

For additional information regarding disposal of button cell batteries and other mercury-containing devices, see the "Proper Management of Household Batteries" fact sheet and "FACT SHEET: Mercury Spills."


Mercury Education & Reduction Campaign    103 South Main Street    Waterbury, VT 05671    802-241-3455
MERC is a program of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

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