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Is It Legal to Throw Car Batteries in the Ocean?

  • Things To Know
  • Natasha Young
  • 6 minutes

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Many of us are convinced that EVs are eco-friendly as they don’t contribute to any “visible” pollution. But just like every other ordinary car battery, they are harmful as well. The critical challenge with any type of car is the disposal of used batteries. However, it is a common practice where people simply dump their used car batteries into the water bodies. If you are wondering whether it’s legal to throw car batteries in the ocean, this article is perfect for you. Read to know more! 

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Is it legal to throw car batteries in the ocean?  

No, it is illegal to do so. You can’t just dump a car battery into the water. Metals such as Cobalt, Lithium, Nickel, and Manganese are found in high concentrations in those batteries. Many aquatic organisms would perish if these chemicals get into the sea.  

The scientific explanation 

The batteries used in electric vehicles release an unmanageable amount of toxins into the surrounding environment. Dimethoxymethane, Lithium, Nickel, Arsenic, and Manganese are all compounds in a normal car battery. According to various reports, Arsenic prevents reproduction and photosynthesis and gets into the food chain through contaminated animal products. When Lithium contaminates water and soil, it kills wildlife. And produces Lithium hydroxide and Hydrogen, which makes the water highly combustible. Manganese causes poisoning when consumed. 

But the most dangerous elements found in the battery are Lithium, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury. The sediments are a major pathway for mercury to reach people through the food chain. Ingestion of Mercury can cause serious health problems, including damage to the lungs, kidneys, immune system, and digestive system, or even death. Lead prevents the rebirth of animals and plants and can be ingested by humans. Animals and plants alike are susceptible to Cadmium toxicity. 

Source: Tenor

How it can affect human life 

Each of these substances eventually finds its way back to us. If we regularly dispose of car batteries into the sea, it will directly impact us. This threatens the ecological system and the delicate balance of the food chain and animal life. Our already miserable condition of water and land will get worse if used vehicle batteries are dumped into the sea. 

Both types of batteries, when discarded carelessly, produce significant plastic pollution and contribute to the ongoing suffocation of our seas. It can also contaminate the ground under the ocean. The dirt will reach the beaches, where it will come into touch with people, animals, and vegetation. Everything we come into contact with will include dangerous compounds, which will have an effect on our health. 

What is the penalty in store? 

Penalties for carelessly discarding trash may add up quickly. Each of the fifty states has enacted legislation addressing the issue. Depending on the state, you would be infringing laws against illegal dumping, which may be either a misdemeanor or a felony. 

Source: Unsplash

You might face jail time, a hefty fine, community service, rehabilitation, or reparations if convicted. The penalties for breaking the Ocean Dumping Act include up to a $250,000 fine and five years in jail. However, considering the little probability of getting prosecuted for this offense compared to the low cost of just recycling your automobile battery, it makes no sense to take that risk. 

Can you dump the old car batteries in a landfill? 

Putting a dead battery from an electric car in a landfill is just as environmentally destructive as dumping it in the ocean. More quickly, all the toxins we’ve been talking about may seep into our water supply. In the same way, in farming. The waste in the landfills will eventually find its way into the water supply and, ultimately, our food supply. Long-term exposure to this leaching might negatively affect both fertility and general well-being. 

Origin of the “Throwing car batteries into the ocean” meme 

Google, not unexpectedly, was the source of this. Someone on Quora once posted the absurd statement that “throwing car batteries into the water is helpful for the environment since they charge electric eels and power the Gulf stream,” which was then recommended by the search engine when users typed in that phrase.

Source: KnowYourMeme

This reply became an online phenomenon later on. Facebook group “Throwing Your Old Car Batteries Into The Ocean” became live on April 30, 2018, with the sole purpose of creating picture macros and memes about disposing of old car batteries by throwing them into the ocean. 

Image from the Facebook group “Throwing Your Old Car Batteries Into The Ocean”

Then the meme first appeared on Reddit in a thread created by user MrTheFysh the next day. Jokes related to car batteries later spread to Facebook groups and on Reddit threads. This reached Twitter by September. Know your meme and know that EV batteries are still very harmful to aquatic life. 

How to safely get rid of old car batteries  

Dropping them off at a facility 

Regular automobile batteries can be dropped off at recycling centers or automotive shops or sent to a metal recycling facility. You may drop it off in many cases, and they won’t charge you a dime. Getting rid of batteries from electric vehicles is a little more complicated. 

Promoting recycling 

Many recyclable materials are used to make a new battery for an electric vehicle, but it will be a while before this becomes standard practice. Once they are, the cost of new electric vehicle batteries will decrease since we won’t have to buy as many pricey raw materials. But that’s assuming everything goes as planned. However, the procedure gets challenging and expensive beyond that point, which is one of the main barriers to greater profitability for batteries used in electric vehicles.  As new and safer methods of recycling emerge, the number of components that can be recycled from batteries will continue to rise. 

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Bottom line 

Do not dispose of automobile batteries by dropping them into water. It’s illegal in many states in the US as it’s harmful to marine life. Keep outdated batteries away from water and landfills if you must dispose of them. Batteries may be disposed of in a number of ways, most of which are safer than just throwing them out. Your options for getting rid of old batteries include donating them, recycling them, selling them online or at a local auto shop, or visiting a battery exchange facility. Alternatively, you may have your old batteries recycled by one of the numerous businesses that offer this service. 


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