A battery is essentially a container full of chemicals that produce electrons. Chemical reactions that produce electrons are called electrochemical reactions. Batteries can leak strong corrosive liquids which can cause explosions or fire, and can burn skin and eyes on contact injuring solid waste workers. Batteries also contain chemicals and heavy metals which can harm the environment when improperly handled or disposed.
Lead acid batteries are a hazardous waste and must be recycled or disposed of at an approved facility. It is illegal to place lead acid batteries in the trash or to dispose of them at landfills, lakes, streams or the ocean. Abandoning lead-acid batteries on streets and parking lots or placing them in waste dumpsters also constitutes illegal hazardous waste disposal, and can be prosecuted under state law. The penalty can be up to $25,000 per occurrence. Riverside County landfills enforce prohibition of this waste.
Lead-acid batteries are broken down into two groups: Household generated lead-acid batteries and commercially generated lead-acid batteries.