The Mystery of Recharging Batteries Revealed

Follow these guidelines to maximize use of cordless products and the batteries that power them

ATLANTA, July 18, 2000 – If your cordless phone or portable drill suddenly cuts out, don't blame the manufacturer. Chances are the rechargeable battery was not properly charged. Consumers are increasingly reliant on cordless products, but we don't understand the power behind them: rechargeable batteries.

With an estimated 431 million cordless power products in U.S. households today, rechargeable batteries have become an integral part of our daily lives. Yet the basic rules of charging rechargeable batteries remain a mystery. Even fewer people know that when certain rechargeable batteries can no longer hold a charge, they can and should be recycled.

Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries are the most common type of rechargeable battery, powering approximately 76 percent of the cordless power products found in the U.S. These products include portable power tools, cellular and cordless phones, camcorders, CD players, and cordless vacuums and blenders. With 95 percent of U.S. households currently owning at least one type of cordless power product, used batteries easily accumulate.

“All too often, Ni-Cd batteries are left in products or discarded in desk drawers because they can no longer hold a charge,” said Ralph Millard, Executive Vice President of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), a non-profit organization that operates the Charge Up to Recycle! program for Ni-Cd battery recycling in the U.S. and Canada. “We want to educate consumers not only on how to properly use rechargeable batteries, but how to recycle those batteries when they no longer hold a charge.”

To maximize the life of your rechargeable batteries and battery-powered products, follow these guidelines:

  • Follow the charging guidelines provided by the manufacturer. This generally means charge your new battery overnight (14-16 hours) before using it for the first time. This is called “initializing” and will enable you to obtain maximum battery capacity.
  • Let your battery cool to room temperature before recharging. The charge efficiency of most batteries is greatly reduced at elevated temperatures.
  • Recharge batteries when they are near to fully discharged. You can tell that a battery is discharged by a sharp drop in power or speed.
  • Keep the contact of rechargeable batteries clean – wipe them with a cloth soaked in alcohol.
  • Never return a fully-charged battery to the charger for an extra boost. This will overcharge the cells and shorten the life of the battery.
  • Never leave your cellular phone, camcorder, etc., in the charger when not charging, unless approved by the manufacturer's instructions. Don't use your charger as a stand! Continuous charging will shorten battery life.
  • If your rechargeable Ni-Cd battery will no longer hold a charge, don't throw it away! Call 1-800-8-BATTERY or go online at to find the nearest retail site or recycling center among the 29,000 participating across the country. National retailers participating include Ace Hardware, Ameritech, Batteries Plus, BellSouth Cellular, Black & Decker, Car Phone Store, Cellular One, Circuit City, GTE Wireless, Orchard Supply, Porter-Cable Factory Service Center, RadioShack, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart.
  • Participating retailers in Canada include Astral Photo Images, Battery Plus, Black's Photography, Canadian Tire, Future Shop, Home Hardware, London Drugs, Makita Factory Service Centers, Authorized Motorola Dealers, Personal Edge/Centre du Rasior, RadioShack, Revy, and Zellers.


About Call2Recycle®
Call2Recycle is the industry’s first and only product
stewardship program for rechargeable batteries. The nonprofit program
is administered by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation
(RBRC), a public service organization dedicated to rechargeable battery
recycling. There are more than 30,000 Call2Recycle drop-off locations
throughout the U.S. and Canada. More than 175 manufacturers
and marketers of portable rechargeable batteries and products show
their commitment to conserve natural resources and prevent rechargeable
batteries from entering the solid waste stream by funding the
Call2Recycle program. In pursuit of its mission, Call2Recycle also
collects old cellphones, which are either recycled or refurbished and
resold when possible with a portion of the proceeds benefiting select
charities. For more information, call 877-2-RECYCLE or visit

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