Hassle-free rechargeable batteries

Written by pete


15 billion batteries end up in landfills every year. Which is a staggering number when you think that the toxic power monsters can easily be recycled. Or better yet, just get rechargeable ones in the first place.

But if you’re anything like me, then you’ve struggled with rechargeable batteries. Not least, because you have to have the charger with you to get them working whenever they run out.

So this is why I’m a huge fan of our latest product to debut in the TerraPass Green Store. USBCELL rechargeable batteries charge direct from the USB port of any computer (Mac, PC or game device) without any extra cables or boxes. Here are a few of the features:

  • Charge from any USB port
  • LED indicates a 90% charge and a full charge
  • Can be topped up any time (you don’t have to wait until they’re empty for a recharge)
  • Can be recharged hundreds of times
  • If you travel with a laptop you have an ever-ready charger with you
  • Perfect for a wireless mouse or other portable gadgets
  • Pays for itself after only eight charges!

Help us to stop toxic batteries from going into landfills — recycle any old ones and start using rechargeable batteries today!

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  1. Donna

    Do these batteries work in digital cameras?

  2. Dave

    It’s a cool idea, it some cases it would make sense, like on vacation or business trip. You need to look at the math though at $10 per battery compared to about $2 each for Duracell Rechargeables sold as a multipack at one of the big box stores.

  3. Anonymous

    These are totally fabulous! It is better than having to buy the unit to charge the batteries – just putting them in the comptuer dock is perfect.
    REPLY to Dave – this is a small extra price to keep batties out of our landfills!

  4. Jeff McWilliams

    What’s the capacity of these batteries?
    It seems a significant amount of the physical space in the battery is consumed by the USB connector and the charging circuitry, which would leave very little left to contain the compounds that store the electrical energy. This means you won’t get much use per charge before they are drained and need to be recharged.
    A 4-pack of Maha NiMH rechargeable batteries rated at 2700mAH of capacity can be purchased for $13.99 on places like Newegg.com

  5. jeff mcwilliams

    To answer my own question.
    These batteries have a rated capacity of 1300mAH, compared to, as I said earlier, 2700mAH for Maha brand NiMH batteries which require a separate charger.

  6. Pete

    Thanks for the comments –
    Dave — Sure you can find rechargeable batteries with higher capacity, and I hope we’ll start to stock these sometime. The point of these is that they overcome some of the major hassles of rechargeable batteries.
    Here’s what the manufacturer says:
    The capacity of USBCELL is 1300mAH — this is greater than some ordinary NiCad and NiMH batteries. Some new high-capacity NiMH batteries can go up to 2500mAH. However, with USBCELL you can simply recharge or top-up by plugging into a USB port rather than going off to find a wall charger and adaptor. Make sure that the battery is fully charged — the charge should take about 5 hours by USB and the light should go off when USBCELL is fully charged.
    Donna — They should work fine in your camera. Anything that normally takes rechargeable batteries should also take these. As with all our products, we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on these, if for any reason they’re not what you’re looking for.

  7. Ann

    You mention that non-rechargeable batteries “can easily be recycled”. Can someone please tell me where? I have searched the internet in vain, and all I can find is that you can turn them in to be “properly disposed of.” The people at Radio Shack have told me the same thing.
    I buy rechargeables almost exclusively, but many products come with batteries already installed … I have a stash of hundreds of non-rechargeables I have accumulated over the years, waiting to find where I can take them to be recycled.

  8. John

    Why has this taken so long? (I find myself asking over and over about renewable tech like this) These would be perfect for my Wii remotes – who eat through AA batteries!

  9. Amber

    Yes I completely have run up into the same problems as Ann. I end up piling up old batteries waiting in vain for a discovery of a recycle spot. I too have searched the internet but there are no centers near me and not even an address I can find to send them to. Instead I have had them crack and leak out deadly toxins inside my house, at which point I give up and throw them in the trash. PLEASE HELP! What do I do with old ones?

  10. Pete

    Ann and Amber —
    I think you’re probably right and I’ve overstated the ease of recycling. There’s a Green Citizen shop opposite our office, so I’m going to head there as soon as it opens and get their advice. I’ll post again as soon as I have an answer.

  11. Catherine

    Cool idea. I’ll probably go for it even though I do have access to battery recycling. It is better to reuse than recycle.
    For those wondering how to recycle batteries, contact your city, county or state hazardous waste department. They’ll be able to tell what options are available in your area.

  12. Pete

    OK so I stand corrected. Old non-rechargeable batteries are not easy to recycle. I’ve had a chat with the people in Green Citizen and they told me that they can recycle the cases and recover around 30% of the zinc, which seems better than nothing.
    Apparently there is only a small handful of places that can do this. So Ann, Amber and anybody else who needs to offload old batteries and doesn’t have a Green Citizen or similar store nearby, here’s a one-time offer: send an email to [email protected] and I’ll forward some shipping instructions to you. Then you send me the batteries, and I’ll drop them off with Green Citizen.

  13. Dave

    If you are near a WHOLE FOODS Market, I believe they all have a battery recycling bin. I think that Interstate Battery recycles batteries as well.
    I purchased a whole bunch of Rayovac Nimh Batteries about 10 years ago and I reuse them over and over again. When they don’t work anymore I will bring them to Whole Foods to recycle.

  14. Amber

    Wow that is really nice of you to offer Pete. We don’t have a Green Citizen (never heard of it before today) but we do have a Whole Foods, so I will check there. Maybe you can talk GC into expanding to the East Coast while you’re over there … ?
    Anyway thanks for checking into it. I like the USB batteries too and will have to get one of those as a back-up for travel.

  15. Ann

    Thanks for the offer, Pete!
    I live in a suburb of Chicago and no one around here will do it. I called our local recycling place and they said they would be happy to take it as household garbage. I said “but, then it ends up in a landfill – and it’s toxic?” They said “yes.” Yikes! I also called my local Whole Foods, they said they don’t take them either.
    I want to start a Green Citizen branch in our area!!

  16. Alli

    Hi there,
    Amber- I just wanted to let you know that both Walgreens Pharmacies and Ikea take all sorts of dead batteries to be properly disposed of! Ikea also take florescent light bulbs.
    Hope this helps!

  17. Adrian

    Alkaline batteries are considered safe for landfills and incinerators. If you want to properly dispose of button batteries or rechargables, talk to your town’s public works department or state’s environmental department.

  18. Ann

    Your comments really intrigued me, so I did some follow-up searching on the internet. First I found a blog which basically confirmed your information:
    Then, a subsequent blog by the same author that countered the earlier one:
    Then, another article that seemed to confirm all of it:
    The bottom line seems to be that pre-1997 batteries are indeed toxic and should be recycled or disposed of properly. Post-1997 batteries are less of a worry but still cause a problem for the environment; however the options for disposal are very limited unless you can find a company which provides a “Big Green Box” program or purchase one of your own.
    I think I might purchase one (or two!), since it seems a relatively small cost in order to recover and re-use all the “crap” in my battery stash, and it sounds like they do more than Green Citizen does (though at a corresponding cost).
    Thank you so much for providing more info on this topic!

  19. Janette

    I have used the usb cell batteries for about a year now and am very happy with them. Primarily, I use them in my mouse but also have one in a battery-operated clock. There is information on recycling on the usbcell website (http://www.usbcell.com/recycle). The company is in England so it’s not as convenient as dropping off at Whole Foods. As of now they only have AA batteries available, but they are planning to come out with additional sizes.

  20. Monty

    I have children, and as a result we go through a lot of batteries. We try (key word: try) to use rechargeable, but it is not quite as easy as replacing them.
    1. All of the rechargeable batteries we have tried lose a charge very quickly. As a result, we can not use them for anything that uses a small current over a long period of time. Examples: Smoke detectors, digital thermostat, even remote controls (especially if they lose their programming when the battery goes dead).
    2. With 2500mA batteries there are still multiple devices that will have problems with them. Examples: Many kids toys, wireless controllers for game systems, and so forth.
    The result is that we keep buying batteries for devices that we have tried multiple varieties of rechargeable on with no success. It is frustrating, and expensive.
    So, while I firmly agree with the thought of replacing disposables with rechargeable batteries, reality for us has made that difficult.

  21. Dave

    Monty, you need to check out the new low-discharge NiMH batteries now available like the Sanyo Eneloop, batteries. These hold their charge much longer (over a year) than their counterparts after charged, which tend to die after a couple months of storage.
    They cost a bit more than standard NiMH batteries, but the convenience of not having to worry about how long ago you charged the is worth it. Make sure you get a good automatic shut-off charger to go with them if you don’t already have one.
    Also, to maximum battery life, make sure you charge up discharged cells as soon as possible. Letting cells sit for extended periods of time while discharged can cause them to die or weaken permanently.