Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about LiPo battery disposal. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.
Hello Drone Girl,
I just read your article about the 15 things to know about LiPo battery care. There does not seem to be any good information on how to properly dispose of LiPo batteries. I have a puffy battery, and no idea what to do with it. Is there any good information out there to responsibly dispose of these batteries? I would imagine this will be a growing/ongoing problem as more and more drones are sold.
That’s a great question, and I’m glad you asked! A LiPo battery (technically a lithium-ion polymer battery) can be very dangerous and needs to be disposed of correctly.
Not only do you need to care for LiPo batteries properly, but you need to take care when disposing of them too.
DO NOT throw LiPo batteries in your trashcan alongside the pizza boxes!
In the event of temperature extremes, or the LiPo being crushed or penetrated by something like a nail, your battery you threw away could end up rupturing, the electrolytes may leak and it could result in a fire.
First off, make sure that batteries in your home are stored correctly. It’s ALWAYS worth investing in an (under $10) explosion-proof LiPo bag.
Now onto disposing…
How to dispose of LiPo batteries safely
Here are the steps on how to dispose of LiPo batteries:
Discharge the battery
Before you dispose of a LiPo battery, it is important to discharge it completely. This will help to prevent the battery from short-circuiting and catching fire. You can discharge the battery by using a battery discharger or by connecting it to a low-power load (which might just be connecting it to a drone that’s powered on but not actually flying).
Seek out a LiPo battery disposal location
There are many different places where you can dispose of LiPo batteries. Some common options include:
- Local recycling centers
- Hazardous waste disposal facilities
- Electronics stores
- Some battery retailers
If you are disposing of a battery that is simply old or unwanted, programs like Call2Recycle have hundreds or recycling locations around the country.
“The Call2Recycle program accepts lithium ion batteries that weigh 11 lbs or less each,” a spokesperson told me. “Lithium polymer batteries are a variation of li-ion, so we would be able to accept them.”
You can use this link to find a LiPo battery disposal location near you, including many Home Depot and Sears retail stores. Just take one glance at that map above to see just how many are in San Francisco!
Just note that many battery disposal centers have limitations around damaged batteries. For example, Call2Recycle does not take batteries that are damaged (bulging, swollen, hot, leaking), defective or recalled.
For batteries that are damaged, contact your local e-waste center to dispose of hazardous materials. For example, in San Francisco, you can dispose of up to 30 electronic items for free (each additional item is $1.50 per piece). Most local e-waste centers offer to either collect the items from you, or allow for dropoff at the center.
What are LiPo batteries — and why are they different than other common household batteries?
LiPo batteries, or Lithium Polymer batteries, are a type of rechargeable battery that is commonly used in electronic devices such as drones, RC cars, and laptops. LiPo batteries are powerful and efficient, but they can also be dangerous if not disposed of properly.
When a LiPo battery is damaged or discarded, it can release harmful chemicals and gases that can pollute the environment and pose a fire hazard. Hence, it’s important to dispose of LiPo batteries properly.
If there’s one tl;dr I can emphasize, it’s that you should never throw a LiPo battery in the trash. Doing so isn’t just bad for the environment, but it could pose a fire hazard.
Happy flying, and recycling!