FYI: Two things aren’t allowed in your trash any more. Here’s what to do with them instead

Seattle Public Utilities is working to get the word out about two things that aren’t supposed to go in the garbage any more: Batteries and electronics. It’s a new city rule as of the start of this year. SPU explains both categories need “special handling”; batteries in particular have become a major fire risk at transfer stations. In short:

What doesn’t go in the garbage?

-Cathode ray tubes

-Electronic products covered by the Washington Electronics Recycling Law. These include:
*Computers and Laptops
*Tablets (like iPad and Amazon Fire)
*E-Readers (like Kindle and NOOK)
*Portable DVD Players

-Batteries, as defined under the state’s Dangerous Waste Regulations. Examples of batteries include but are not limited to:
*Miniature button cell batteries
*Alkaline, silver oxide, zinc air, and other single-use batteries
*Lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and other rechargeable batteries

So if you can’t put any of this in your trash or recycling, what can you do with it? The city offers “special item pickups” at an extra charge. For free dropoff – batteries can be taken to the nearby South Transfer Station; this lookup also shows dropoffs at Junction True Value and The Home Depot. For electronics, free dropoff events are coming up in West Seattle this spring (more details when they get closer). There are private services such as Ridwell, too.

37 Replies to "FYI: Two things aren't allowed in your trash any more. Here's what to do with them instead"

  • Anne January 26, 2024 (3:52 pm)

    Was just at Junction True Value today to check this out -the sign on the counter says they DO NOT take Alkaline Batteries. 

    • WSB January 26, 2024 (4:14 pm)

      Hopefully they will notify whomever maintains that directory, then.

      • EnergizerBunny January 26, 2024 (5:14 pm)

        According to the link above, the only site that I could see that takes “single-use batteries” (such as regular AA and AAA alkaline batteries) in our area is “Amazon TRB.” It’s pretty unrealistic to think that people are going to otherwise take these to a transfer station so I hope they come up with a better plan.

      • wsgolfer January 26, 2024 (5:50 pm)

        The directory appears to be accurate. True Value does take rechargeable but not Single-Use batteries. Here are the locations that take Single-Use (alkaline) batteries.

    • AmandaSea January 26, 2024 (4:47 pm)

      Well BOOOO! I had just posted in the Community Forum earlier this month asking about alkaline battery drop offs. This is still helpful info. Thanks to Anne, Keymaster from the forum, and the WSB!

  • Jeepney January 26, 2024 (4:36 pm)

    Hopefully this law is fairly applied to all.

    • Anne January 26, 2024 (5:59 pm)

      What the heck does that mean?

      • JN January 26, 2024 (10:44 pm)

        I assume their comment was around enforcement of the rule. SPU going after affluent households vs less than, or randomized. Regardless, dunno how SPU plans to go about enforcement…Metal detectors on garbage cans before pickup? 

  • Eric1 January 26, 2024 (4:50 pm)

    Alkaline batteries have been mercury free for decades and most modern guides say that landfill disposal is okay for them.  I am not surprised that Ace doesn’t have a program to take them.  On the other hand, I always thought that proper disposal of electronics and batteries was the law for years.  Saying that they aren’t allowed in the trash any more infers than it was ok to dump them in the trash prior to January 1st.  I am so confused. 😐

    • Val January 26, 2024 (5:48 pm)

      Same. Confused when it was still acceptable to throw out electronics and batteries when I’m still collecting them for designated recycling! 

    • bolo January 26, 2024 (6:58 pm)

      I take it to mean good stewardship of the earth practices, something we should have been doing all along instead of being lazy and reckless in the name of “consumer convenience.” We used to dump raw sewage and worse in the waterways but fortunately (especially for the youth and beyond) have better practices in place now.

      I’ve been bringing my broken/old/unwanted electronics to RE-PC in SODO, when in the area. What they don’t resell they are able to reclaim some of the ingredients (gold?).

      The used batteries go in a repurposed yogurt tub. When it gets full I take it to Home Depot when I need to go there for something. Not that hard to do.

      • Mina January 26, 2024 (10:03 pm)

        The repurposed yoghurt tub is a nice touch.

      • gross old batteries January 27, 2024 (10:18 am)

        Thank you for doing the right thing, and for those who don’t know batteries eventually leak and are toxic. Home Depot has been the easiest place for us to do this as well. 

      • Daniel January 28, 2024 (11:51 am)

        It sounds like Home Depot doesn’t take alkaline batteries

  • Seattlite January 26, 2024 (5:18 pm)

    How are EV’s lithium batteries disposed of under these new regulations?

    • K in WS January 27, 2024 (3:57 pm)

      EV battery are worth something. If you have one, you can sell it to Redwood Materials. You might be able to get a better price depending on how much charge it still holds though.

  • Mike January 26, 2024 (5:18 pm)

    Government is not consistent.  In the 80s, King County had a big push to limit use of electricity to “save the salmon” and promoted heating homes with natural gas.

    • KM January 26, 2024 (6:47 pm)

      Unfortunately, a lot of people including those in leadership fell prey to gas lobbyists in the 70s and 80s. The message should change, knowing what we now know about the many problems with natural gas (and other energy issues).

      • Rhonda January 26, 2024 (8:45 pm)

        KM, people in our state died of hypothermia in their own homes 2 weeks ago because their electricity was out. No state has a natural gas ban because it’s the most efficient residential heat source besides passive solar. Our electrical grid cannot meet even current demand.

        • KBear January 26, 2024 (11:00 pm)

          Rhonda, maybe yours is different, but my gas furnace definitely does not operate when the electricity is out. 

        • Platypus January 28, 2024 (10:13 pm)

          The most efficient form of heating is a heat pump! They are great, save money, and you get AC as a bonus. My house was super toasty when everyone else was dealing with their frozen drain lines, and my electric bill is still cheap. The grid can easily handle it.

  • Peter S. January 26, 2024 (5:19 pm)

    Although I completely support keeping  toxic and/or dangerous materials out of the garbage, you have to make it easier for people if you want them to do the right thing, not harder.  How many are going to opt for the “extra charge pickup” or go to one of the designated dropoffs if not convenient, vs. simply disguising it and putting it in the garbage?    SPU should treat batteries and electronics the same way they treat used motor oil – a clearly marked separate container set out next to the recycle bin.

    • Mr Henry January 28, 2024 (10:43 am)

      I agree with Peter idea 100%.  If it’s not made more convenient to dispose of used batteries, people will continue to put them in the garbage containers. 

  • Leesa January 26, 2024 (6:41 pm)

    My employer lets us bring old electronics in once a year that they’ll e-cycle with other office items. I have been a Ridwell customer for several years now and can’t recommend it enough! Best money I spend each month. 

  • R2 January 26, 2024 (6:44 pm)

    Humanity in a nutshell. We make things that have a limited useful lifespan that must be replaced but we can’t dispose of.

  • WS Guy January 26, 2024 (7:11 pm)

    Home Depot did not take non-rechargeable batteries back as of two weeks ago when I stopped by to do precisely that.

  • Pixie B January 26, 2024 (7:12 pm)

    I use to bring my batteries to McLendons. Have they stopped accepting them?

    • Corla January 29, 2024 (6:57 am)

      Yes McLendon’s has stopped taking all batteries. It cost too much for them to have them picked up.

  • Suzanne January 26, 2024 (9:36 pm)

    Ridwell takes all those batteries — including alkaline batteries. We've been using them almost since they started. One of the very best deals in town!

    • JCW January 26, 2024 (10:18 pm)

      Ditto! Ridwell is great for so many items that aren’t permitted in landfill-based trash! We regularly have plastic film (grocery bags), multilayer plastic, and bottle caps to recycle. Glad it can be put to recyclable uses!

  • Bob January 26, 2024 (11:04 pm)

    I collect our dead lithium and alkaline batteries and drop them off at the household hazardous waste collection site located across the street from the entrance to the south transfer station.  It takes about a year to collect enough to make it worth my time…probably half dozen lithium batteries and a couple dozen alkaline batteries from flashlights, computer peripherals, remote controls and fire alarms. They always accepted the alkaline batteries, even though they could have been disposed of at home in our garbage.  I have also dropped old oil based paints and other hazardous materials there.  I can’t imagine how it could get more convenient. It’s open on Saturday’s.  I’ve never had to wait in line.  Getting rid of our old fire extinguishers and recycling styrofoam is much more time consuming.

    South Household Hazardous Waste Facility

    8100 2nd Ave S, Seattle 98108Hours: Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Closed on July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

  • Joan January 27, 2024 (7:01 am)

    It will take me many years to save up enough batteries to make a special trip worthwhile  to drop them off. Not a big issue. Just have to remember that now.

    • Agree, not that hard January 27, 2024 (10:20 am)

      Agree, just put them in a bin marked “dead batteries” and two year from. Then take them somewhere. Nothing to get outraged about. 

  • SLJ January 27, 2024 (7:52 am)

    If you have an extra $10 a month, Ridwell is the way to go. It’s amazing how many things they can recycle. Our family of four has just one kitchen-sized bag of garbage a week.

  • Ginnie Hance January 27, 2024 (8:09 am)

    Goodwill in Burien will take electronics working or not – no questions asked. They are a designated drop site. Drop off only during open hours.Ridwell will take all batteries, clean plastic bags, old clothes and styrofoam, for a fee. I wish the city would contract with them and either provide pick-up service or drop-off sites.Hazardous waste like oil paints and toxic liquid, as mentioned above have to be taken to the haz waste drop off across from the SW transfer station entrance.

    • Goodwill is amazing January 27, 2024 (10:22 am)

      They route stuff to the right re-use/disposal and keep it out of landfills or the side of the road.

  • WSLUV January 27, 2024 (11:32 am)

    The reality is, unless you choose to pay at least $18/mo for a private service like Ridwell, at least 99% of households are throwing their single-use, alkaline batteries in the trash. What would be great is if a West Seattle business or two would accept these types of batteries for people to drop off, they could boost business and help the environment at the same time.  Perhaps a local business could pay $18/mo for Ridwell themselves and accept these batteries for their patrons.

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