Battery recycling program to undergo collection process change

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has announced a new collection process for batteries used for University-related business. For safety reasons, rechargeable and nonrechargeable batteries can no longer be collected together in the current bucket collection system.

To date, all batteries have been collected across the University in small recycling buckets found within individual units. When the buckets were full, staff from Penn State’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) would be notified by the unit and then collect the batteries for recycling.

After many years of successfully collecting batteries, EHS has determined that it is a fire hazard to continue to collect batteries using the current bucket system. While no incidents have occurred on campus, EHS is taking precautions to ensure the safety of the Penn State community. Rechargeable batteries must be collected in individual bags so that their terminals are not exposed. Touching the positive and negative terminals of a battery to a conductor (i.e., metal) allows energy to flow out of the battery, potentially causing a fire. Battery terminals that touch another battery’s terminal also can cause a fire.

To make it easy for faculty, staff and students to appropriately dispose of batteries used for University-related business, Penn State is making two changes to the recycling process.

First, 10 new central battery collection stations have been installed across the University Park campus. These will be the drop-off points for both rechargeable and nonrechargeable batteries, as well as small electronics. This will alleviate the need for battery buckets in individual units.

These locations include:

  • HUB-Robeson Center (Inside west entrance)
  • Westgate Building - IST (Near Au Bon Pain)
  • Smeal Business Building (Second Floor break room)
  • Pattee Library (Inside Pollock entrance)
  • Innovation Park (226 Outreach Building)
  • Findlay Commons (Outside of Housing office, 134 Johnson Commons)
  • South Halls (Outside Housing office, 202 Redifer)
  • Hosler Building (Near the Ground Floor elevator)
  • Office of the Physical Plant (Outside Room 128, near vending machines)
  • Technical Support Building, at Science Park Road

Second, battery buckets have been removed from all University Park buildings and replaced with a battery mailer program, which will allow building occupants to send rechargeable batteries that have lost their ability to hold a charge to EHS for proper disposal. Nonrechargeable batteries will no longer be collected in buildings and will need to be taken to a central battery collection station.

The current battery buckets located in more than 200 building locations have been replaced with mailers complete with instructions. Facilities coordinators have designated battery collection leaders in each building to manage the new mailer system and request more mailers from EHS when depleted. A list of these leaders is available at sustainability.psu.edu/batteries.

All faculty, staff and students are asked to use the new mailers to send only rechargeable batteries to EHS and/or use the central battery collection station to recycle both their rechargeable and nonrechargeable batteries and small electronics.

“The University is legally obligated to collect and recycle rechargeable batteries (nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride and lithium ion) which all contain components that are hazardous to people and/or the environment,” said Kevin Myers, hazardous materials program manager at EHS. “However, nonrechargeable (alkaline batteries) are not required by law to be recycled as they do not pose a significant hazard to people or the environment.”

For information about the health and environmental concerns for recycling batteries, visit http://sustainability.psu.edu/batteries. The information contained on the website also is available in printed form. For questions or concerns about the new collection system, email recycle@psu.edu or call EHS at 814-865-6391.

Last Updated January 02, 2018