Is It Legal To Throw Car Batteries In The Ocean?

By Derrick •  Updated: 06/13/22 •  7 min read

All batteries contain multiple chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment. Due to this critical fact, it is essential to dispose of batteries that are no longer useful correctly. However, battery owners choose to dispose of batteries most easily and conveniently possible in some cases. Many people choose one of the alternatives to throwing them into the ocean, but is it legal to throw batteries into the ocean?

Although many people think otherwise, dumping broken batteries in the ocean is illegal in the United States. It is essential to clarify that the penalties for dumping batteries into the ocean vary from state to state. So the best possible recommendation is to do things right. 

The illegality and penalties for this type of action are because batteries can cause contamination of the seabed, the water, and the species that live there. In other words, batteries in the ocean can cause the death of the surrounding flora and fauna. Many of these measures seek to contribute to protecting the environment. Still, suppose you want to know more about this critical topic. In that case, we invite you to continue reading the following sections of this article.

Is It Illegal To Dump Batteries In The Ocean?

We know that disposing of a battery properly can take a little extra effort and time. Still, if we decide not to do it, we can face legal problems in the United States, as it is illegal in most states, and the reasons for this prohibition are:

  • The chemicals in the batteries pollute the water and the seabed.
  • These chemicals can cause the death of flora and fauna in the area.
  • The contamination of water and soil, in turn, causes diseases and deterioration of the health of residents. 

Some Legal Regulations Related To The Disposal Of Vehicle Batteries In The Ocean 

The illegality of the action of throwing batteries into the ocean varies depending on the state where we live. For this reason, we will list a series of regulations in some states related to the disposal of used batteries in the sea and recycling.

  • U.S. federal law requires, with some exceptions, that used lead-acid and nickel-cadmium batteries fall into the category of Universal Waste category. 
  • In California, the law requires people to recycle the batteries or take them to a recycling center. There are several sites for this purpose, some of which are brokerage or storage facilities.
  • Connecticut is one of the fastest-growing recycling states in the country. One of the drivers for this significant rate is that the state legally requires people to recycle various items, including batteries.
  • You can find another example of the extent of intelligent recycling in Arizona. In Arizona, retailers of rechargeable batteries must provide their customers with a free system to properly recycle or dispose of the batteries. This requirement is mandatory for law enforcement in Arizona.
  • The law requires all companies to recycle in Colorado, including non-profit businesses, public and private agencies, hospitals, and schools. 
  • In Texas, the law also requires individuals to recycle batteries. Owners must take the batteries to a household hazardous waste disposal facility or a universal waste manager.
  • In the state of Vermont, the law requires all residents to recycle nickel-cadmium batteries as well as sealed lead-acid batteries.
  • New Jersey also has a recycling law specifically for lithium-ion batteries.
  • In Washington, you can not dispose of used batteries, so people must return them to the manufacturer for destruction or recycling.
  • Oregon has a particular procedure for the disposal of batteries. You cannot just throw them in the ocean or even in the trash can.

The Reasons Why You Should Not Throw Batteries In The Ocean

You should know that a conventional car battery contains approximately 20 pounds of acid and lead. The reality is that’s a lot of lead for such a small device. The problem with this situation is that if we don’t handle the batteries the right way, the lead can become a severe inconvenience due to its polluting characteristics. The following reasons will better explain why we should not throw batteries into the sea.

Chemicals And Pollutants From Batteries Can Leach Into The Water

This fact is the most common consequence when we throw the battery into the sea. Battery chemicals, such as acids, lead and heavy metals, are highly harmful to aquatic flora and fauna. In addition, this leakage will contaminate a vital stretch of water, which will also cause health problems for humans.

The Decomposition Of The Battery Can Take Years

The decomposition process of batteries takes years. This reality means that if we throw a battery into the sea, it will remain for years polluting the waters and harming the habitat and the life of the different marine species. It is essential to know that one of the severe consequences of lead poisoning is that it can cause behavioral and learning problems in children.

Unfortunately, these pollutants found in the water are not very visible. While we are on a nice day at the beach with the family and children, we could be exposed to lead poisoning from batteries thrown into the sea.

We Should Not Do It Because It Is Illegal

As discussed in previous sections, dumping a battery into the ocean is illegal. Each state has its environmental regulations regarding this issue. However, what is clear to everyone is that it is an illegal activity that will bring consequences to the people who incur this situation.

What Are The Best Actions To Take To Dispose Of A Battery?

After understanding all the repercussions of dumping batteries in the ocean, we conclude that the best option is to dispose of them properly. Let’s review below some of the methods recommended by experts to achieve this goal.

We Can Recycle Batteries

We can find many companies that pay money for receiving old batteries. These recycling centers also pay to receive old cars to take them out of circulation and thus contribute to the decrease of environmental pollution. Many states require the lead be removed from car parts, so specialized centers shred most of the batteries. You can openly ask the recycling center if they accept batteries in exchange for money.

Call Your Local Authorities And Ask For Guidance

When in doubt, it is always best to check with local authorities for their recommendations on the disposal of old batteries. Local safety agencies can tell you precisely what to do and where to take the battery for proper disposal.

Evaluate The Option Of Getting A Portable Battery Charger

Another alternative is to get a portable battery charger for home use. If you are in the middle of an emergency, this option can help us start the vehicle or even extend the life of the battery. However, we must be clear that it is only a temporary solution.

Sell The Used Battery On Online Platforms

Nowadays, many people are taking advantage of the boom of e-commerce portals to sell their used batteries. We can find platforms such as eBay, where we will find someone interested in buying this item. A significant advantage of this alternative is that it is entirely free.

Many Community Centers Receive Used Batteries

We can also check with our nearest community center to determine if they accept and take care of receiving and properly disposing of used batteries.

Donate Used Batteries 

You can explore the possibility of donating your used battery so that someone else can take advantage of its remaining useful life. But make sure that the recipient will proceed to dispose of the battery when the time comes appropriately.

A Final Thought On Dumping Batteries In The Ocean

The average useful life of a standard battery is 3 to 4 years. After this time, we must replace it with a new one, and this is the moment when we ask ourselves what to do with the old battery. 

The option of throwing it into the ocean is illegal. Also, it entails significant damage to the environment and people’s health. The best recommendation is to dispose of the batteries correctly, either through recycling or simply by requesting guidance from the local authorities.


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