Lithium-Ion Batteries

You may not know it but lithium-ion batteries power the majority of the devices we handle and encounter every day. Examples of devices powered by lithium-ion batteries include cell phones, laptops, toys and even cars. These batteries are an effective and efficient power supply however they can be dangerous if they are damaged or are not used correctly. 

Lithium-ion batteries store a large amount of energy in a small amount of space. When lithium-ion batteries are damaged or are not charged properly a process called thermal runaway can occur. Thermal runaway is the uncontrollable heating of the battery cell that results in the emission of toxic and flammable gasses, fire and explosions.  

General safety tips 
  • Only purchase batteries and devices that have been tested and certified by a qualified testing laboratory – this will be indicated by a certification mark on the product or the packaging  

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the device 

  • Only use the battery that came with the device  

  • If you need to replace a battery always replace it with a battery from the manufacturer that was designed for the device 

  • Store batteries carefully to prevent damage and away from anything that can catch fire 

Charging lithium-ion batteries 
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions for charging the battery 

  • Only charge the battery with the charging system that came with the device 

  • If you need to replace the charging system that came with the device replace it with the proper system from the manufacturer 

  • Charge batteries and devices on a non-combustible surface such as a counter top 

  • Never charge batteries in a location that would block your exit in the event of a fire 

  • Do not keep charging the battery or device once it is fully charged 

Issues with lithium-ion batteries

Stop using the battery if you notice any of these problems:  

  • An odor 

  • Change in colour  

  • Too much heat  

  • Change in shape 

  • Leaking  

  • Odd noises  

If it is safe to do so move the battery or device away from anything that can burn and call 9-1-1. 

Lithium-ion battery disposal 

Lithium-ion batteries, and devices that contain lithium-ion batteries, should not be disposed of in household garbage or recycling bins. The batteries and devices can be damaged during collection and can result in fires during transport or at landfills/recyclers. 

  • Recycling lithium-ion batteries is always the best option 

  • Many stores that sell lithium-ion batteries also collect them for disposal, a list of stores can be found at

  • Lithium-ion batteries can be disposed during the City’s Household Hazardous Waste events for free. View upcoming HHW events at 

Other battery disposal 

Some batteries are single-use and cannot be recharged. Examples of single-use alkaline batteries include 9-volt, AA, AAA, and D cells. Once these batteries are no longer usable it is time to dispose of them. Recycling these batteries is the most environmentally friendly option. Even if single-use batteries are dead they can still produce current and need to be disposed of carefully. 

To safely dispose of single-use batteries: 

  • Tape the terminals of batteries with electrical or masking tape prior to collection and disposal 

  • Collect batteries in a non-combustible container 

  • Drop off batteries to a collection facility, a list of locations that accept single-use batteries can be found here 

  • Batteries can be disposed during the City’s Household Hazardous Waste events for free. View upcoming HHW events at