San Francisco Environment Department

To Beat Battery Waste, Department Of Environment Launches New “Bucket Or Bin Top” Recycling Campaign

New Campaign Will Remind San Francisco Residents to Reduce the Risk of Fires and Other Hazards by Safely Disposing their Batteries

May 4, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Department of Environment has launched a new public education campaign to inform San Francisco residents about how to properly recycle old batteries. Old or used batteries left in junk drawers or cabinets are potential fire hazards, which is why the Department is reminding residents “Bucket or Bin Top” when it comes to recycling batteries.

“No matter where you live in San Francisco, it’s never been easier to safely recycle small household batteries,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “Batteries never belong in the black landfill bin. Just remember bucket or bin top when you want to dispose of old batteries at home. It’s that easy.”

San Francisco residents can either place used batteries in a clear sealed plastic bag and put them on top of their black landfill bin on collection day or use the orange battery collection bucket available in many large residential buildings. Hence the term “Bucket or Bin Top.”

San Franciscans purchase about 17 million household batteries every year - that's over 700 tons of batteries. Dead batteries can be recycled into golf clubs, cooking pots and pans, sheet steel, new batteries and even sun-screen. However, batteries that are thrown into any of the three collection bins and down trash chutes can cause fires and pollute the environment.

In a recent survey of recycling company managers, 83% reported having a fire at their facility in the last two years with 65% of those reported fires due to batteries.  Improper disposal also endangers the workers at Recology who pick up trash and recyclables, as well as those who handle it at the facility.

To help amplify the Department’s new education campaign, a group of lively drummers have been beating bins and buckets at major hotspots around the city to remind San Franciscans how to properly dispose of batteries. Street activations of drummers have taken place at the Civic Center Farmer’s Market, 24th Street BART Station, and Sunday Streets Bayview-Dogpatch. The campaign will also reach residents through advertising on Muni bus shelters, Muni bus interiors, and digital ads. 

Whether placed in the bucket or on top of the black bin -- all batteries collected are returned to Recology’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility in San Francisco for sorting, packaging, and shipment to a licensed recycling plant.

Batteries that are bulging, corroded, leaking, or showing burn marks should not be placed on a bin or in a bucket.  Residents can call 415-330-1405 or 415-355-3700 for special instructions. 

For more information about the campaign, visit:

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