Get Big Money for Scrap Batteries




About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific...

I just got paid $300 cash for two dozen old lead-acid batteries. Here's how.

A lot of readers are asking: Where do I get dead batteries?:
I mostly got these batteries by seeing and asking for them. New cars wreck batteries pretty quick because the car computer never really turns off. So if the car isn't driven regularly it'll over-discharge and sulfate the battery.
I tell my friends to give me their toxic waste and I'll get rid of it, cuz I hate seeing buckets of drain oil left out in the rain. They give me their dead batteries also.
I picked up a few behind service stations and parts stores where people had orphaned them. A few came from my marina next to the dumpster, more came from the marine supply store. I told them I was experimenting with desulfating batteries and they told me to help myself to their scrap pile. Some came back to life from various magic treatments and I gave them to friends or built them into projects.

Those projects included as welders and power storage for solar welders, running power tools off them, as well as starting and lighting batteries for the Free Yacht.

I finally got around to taking the bad ones to the scrapyard and damn!
Here's what the robo-cashier at the scrapyard gave me for my load of toxic waste!
Batteries are worth real money now, if you can find the right buyer.

Step 1: Check the Market

The market goes up and down. Right now the dollar is low and China and India are buying scrap like crazy to sell it back to us as products. That drives up scrap values. Our military shooting and attracting bullets all over the world doesn't hurt the value of lead either.

Check the values online or in your paper, if it has a commodity markets listing.
You'll get less than this, because you're not selling a train car full. Unlike retail economics, in collection economics smaller quantities are worth less per pound.
If you're in a city with a port that ships to China, expect to get a higher price than elsewhere.
If you have a huge quantity, bargain up for a higher price. The yards that load ships won't usually bother with you unless you've got truckloads, but if you do, they'll pay accordingly higher.

"TL" means "Truck Load". "LTL" means "Less than Truckload".

Step 2: Call Around, Load Up, and Haul

If you run into a scavenger with a truck or a shopping cart full of cans, ask them what the best places are to sell different kinds of scrap.
Now call those places, other local scrapyards and recyclers and ask them if they buy what you have and how much they pay.
Within 5 miles of me (and the port of Oakland) I heard prices ranging from
"No", "$5 a battery", "fifteen cents a pound" and "twenty cents a pound".
They're allowed to offer you whatever they want. It's a business and they have expenses.
They'll ask you how much you have. If you say you have more, they may offer a better rate.

CASS recycling had the best price for batteries of the places I called.

Load up your batteries and head out. Don't hurt your back. A spine is worth more than any amount of scrapmetal. Notice how low the Ugly Truckling's rear springs are. The ride was very smooth.

Step 3: Cash It In

Stop at the scrapyard office and ask them what to do. We waited in a line of other trucks for a while til one of those guys told us that since we just had batteries, we could drive right in.
Once inside the yard, they had us load our batteries on a cart, push the cart onto a scale.
They asked me for ID, my address, and had me sign a form promising that I was the lawful owner of the stuff I was selling them. There's been a big problem in the city with "copper miners" stealing metal wires, pipes, etc. to recycle for money, so there's a law requiring this form.
Then they printed me a reciept with a barcode at the bottom.

"Behind the woman in yellow is a little room like a closet. Scan the barcode there and the ATM will give you your money. You'll get the dollars, but you won't get the coins."

Here's the ATM, and the sign saying that they'll write you a check for the coins if you really want them to.
I hadn't looked at the reciept, so I was pretty amazed when hundred dollar bills started spewing out of the machine. I guess those batteries weighed more than I thought they would.

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    181 Discussions


    3 years ago

    if it's a dead car or truck battery, autozone will give you a 5 dollar merchandise credit.


    3 years ago

    I have energizer 2032 batteries brand new in packaging still trying to get rid of them


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    cell phone dead betteri hai ager kisi k pas tu is per rabta kero plz .0332 =8142415 sageer daaar


    3 years ago

    I have all types of small batteries


    Do any places buy alkaline "AA " batteries? Because I have several pounds and dont want to just throw them away.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Dear buyers, we are major exporters of ACID DRAINED BATTERY SCRAP to any serious buyer on a long term supply contract base. contact us on for the full details.
    Looking up to building a lasting business cooperation with you.


    7 years ago on Step 3

    does anyone recycle rechargeable batteries that don't have lead in them? like you use on drills?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Collecting scrap metals can be very profitable. I' ve been helping one guy couple of times when salvaging "valuables" from various places using a large pickuptruck. He had a buyer for everything we had gathered. He advertised on local newspaper about his collecting services: people called him whenever in need of removing some old iron farm equipment (plows, tractors etc.) from their land or when those three dead cars on side of the field just weren't a joyfull sight anymore. I don't know how much he got from it but once he almost started drooling when we were lifting an old wood burning stove, that was made entirely of iron and weight about 1000kg, on his truck. There was also bundles of aluminium and copper on many demolition sites we visited. The guy payed me 20€ per hour when in need of a muscular young man for a sweaty job, no funny thoughts there:P

    That's a shocker.... lol, literally spewing out bills into your face. 2 dozen batteries you say? 24 batts. multiplied by the poundage of each = how much lead is in there, actually less because of the acid etc. It's just a rough approximation.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    old catalatic converters is where the real money is, you can sometimes get 300 a piece if your lucky, this is cuz they have precious metals inside.

    7 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I know that in the US (at least in my state), it's illegal to sell used catalytic converters to anyone but a certified recycling center. And there aren't many (probably 1 or 2 close enough to justify the gas cost).


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, and those certified recycling centers don't pay more than $100 US per catalytic converter. And aluminum cans aren't worth much here either. I got 5 dollars for around 150 or 200 pounds worth of aluminum cans. I collected those cans for nearly 5 years hoping for a big payout. I spent more in gas just hauling those cans to the recycling center.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I got 55 cents per pound of beverage cans (uncrushed though, because that's the way my buyer likes them)

    I've got a bin right next to the recycle bin here at home and then I bag them up and toss them in the attic. After 2 years I had 27 pounds which I cashed in for $14.35 bucks.

    You'll never get rich this way but it's some nice folding money. I combined this load with some other scrap and did the whole run with less than 2 miles of a detour from another errand, so the I never put much labor into the job. I grossed $44 for the detour of about an hour. I don't feel I did much more than the effort involved with just giving the scrap to the county for free.

    I do let the county pick up my glass, tin, newspaper and plastic though. So I'll scrap, but I won't "scrap stupid"

    The very best thing to do is to watch those scrap prices. Find a site close to you that publishes prices on the web. If you can't find that, then call around to some scrappers and compare the price to Kitco Basemetals. You'll never get the spot price, but you'll be able to watch the price and only bother to haul scrap when demand makes prices high enough.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I was able to sell my silver oxide batteries to , they paid me 50 dollars a pound for used silver oxide watch batteries and paid for shipping. i googled watch battery buyers and found them and would recommend them.


    May 11

    Kitco spot for Al ~ $0.91/lb

    Irony Al tran. $0.17

    Clean Al rads $0.50

    Irony Al rads $0.30 (had plastic side tanks)

    Kitco spot for Pb is also  ~ $0.91/lb

    auto/truck size lead acid batteries are still $8 per each