Is AA Battery Biodegradable or Non-Biodegradable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: June 6, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

AA batteries are quickly rising to become the kings in portable electronic devices . 

Their usage rate in consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and homes is skyrocketing.

Modern homes have energy-guzzling appliances that constantly demand more power, contributing to more battery waste. 

Most batteries have heavy metals that threaten human health and the environment.

But is AA battery biodegradable or non-biodegradable? AA batteries are non-biodegradable. 

Their materials are rigid for microorganisms to break down. If they could, it would take hundreds of years to biodegrade fully.

Here, we’ll determine whether AA battery is biodegradable or non-biodegradable. So keep on reading for more insight!

What is an AA Battery?

AA battery is a type of battery used by most portable electronic devices. 

It is a small cylindrical battery with an anode and cathode on each end. 

The battery often works in single devices or paired to power larger but still portable devices. AA batteries are super versatile. 

They are also readily available in nearly every country around the globe.

Types of AA Batteries

  • Rechargeable AA batteries
  • Lithium AA batteries
  • Standard Alkaline AA Batteries
What is an AA Battery?

Biodegradable vs. Non-Biodegradable?

Biodegradable is a substance that natural and biological agents can break down into simpler substances. 

These agents include:

  • Sun rays
  • UV radiations
  • Water(moisture)
  • Temperature
  • Microorganisms like fungi, bacteria, and others

Biodegradation of substances will only occur if the above factors are available in proper amounts. 

The availability of these factors will also affect the decomposition of biodegradable substances.

The term “non-biodegradable” refers to a substance that microorganisms cannot break down into simpler substances.

Is AA Battery Biodegradable or Non-Biodegradable?

AA batteries are non-biodegradable. That’s because microorganisms or natural factors like sun rays, temperature, and moisture in the environment cannot get broken down into simpler substances.

Their material composition contains metal, strengthened carbon, or plastic materials. That makes it difficult for microbes to digest them fully. 

It would take them hundreds of years to break down the rigid outer case AA batteries have if they could.

In addition, AA batteries have toxic chemicals such as mercury, cadmium, lithium, zinc, and lead. These substances are hazardous. 

That means the fungi, bacteria, and other organisms will die when they break the battery components down.

But throwing these batteries everywhere could cause hazardous effects to the environment and human health. 

So the best way to dispose of AA batteries is by taking them to a recycling center. You may also return them to the store where you bought them for recycling.

However, Recycle More says that about 22000 tonnes of domestic batteries get disposed of in landfill sites each year. 

The recycling rates are also very low, about 10%.

So it would be best if the AA batteries were to be more efficient, biodegradable, or made using sustainable materials.

Are there Biodegradable Batteries?

Yes. In 2015, researchers in the US and Sweden developed a battery using aerogel, a squishy wood-sourced foam substance. 

The battery is lightweight, elastic, and has a high capacity as it primarily came from wood pulp. 

That makes it ideal for wearable computers and electronic devices in cars.

In the previous year, scientists from Tufts University in Massachusetts and the University of Illinois developed a biodegradable battery that can dissolve in water.

The biodegradable battery uses an electrolyte that decomposes when in contact with water. 

Its casing comes from a polymer called polylactic acid (PLA).

PLA originates from renewable resources such as cornstarch or sugarcane. 

So it degrades when in contact with natural microbes or sunlight.

The battery’s creators say it is the first of its kind to be fully biodegradable and non-toxic. 

They hope the battery will one-day power applications such as implants, wearable devices, and environmental sensors.

Biodegradable batteries are safe to use. They also don’t have any harmful side effects on the environment or humans.

The problem is that they are not 100% efficient in degrading since they take a long time to decompose. 

A typical biodegradable battery can degrade in around three years.

However, it’s important to note that some companies are working on developing biodegradable batteries that can degrade in a matter of weeks. 

This would make them much more environmentally friendly.

Is AA Battery Recyclable?

Is AA Battery Recyclable?

Yes, AA batteries are recyclable. Many battery recycling programs are available for people who want to recycle their old batteries. 

Most of these programs are free, and they provide you with a mailing label so that you can send your used batteries back to them.

If you have AA batteries in your home, please do not throw them into the trash can. 

You should contact your local government office to find out where you can dispose of your batteries.

How Long Does It Take for AA Batteries to Biodegrade?

It takes a long time for AA batteries to biodegrade. 

This is because they come from non-biodegradable materials, and the battery itself is a complex piece of technology that takes a long time to break down.

If you leave an AA battery out in the open, it will take about 400 years for it to break down.

Is AA Battery Renewable or Non-Renewable?

A battery can be renewable or non-renewable depending on whether it is a regular (alkaline) or a rechargeable (lithium-ion).

Why are AA Batteries Non-Renewable?

Take an example of a flashlight using regular or alkaline batteries. 

If the batteries run out of energy, that’s it. You must replace the batteries to power up the flashlight again, making them non-renewable.

The used batteries will fill up the dumpsites, causing environmental damage.

Unlike natural resources like solar, wind, and water, the minerals like cobalt, lithium, zinc, etc., required to manufacture these batteries are finite. Their supply is scarce. Once the mineral resources deplete, there will be no more batteries.

Why are AA Batteries Renewable?

But if the flashlight uses a rechargeable (lithium-ion) battery, you can recharge it once it loses its charge. 

The charger often connects to a power outlet to transfer energy into the battery.

Once the battery recharges fully, you can put it back into the flashlight to power it. 

So you can use the battery continuously for as long as its lifespan stays intact.

In this way, rechargeable batteries produce renewable energy. Unlike regular batteries, rechargeable batteries are long-lasting. 

That means the materials used to manufacture more batteries will be reduced, making them renewable.


Is AA battery biodegradable or non-biodegradable? AA battery is non-biodegradable as its materials are rigid and toxic, making it difficult for microorganisms like fungi and bacteria to act upon them.

However, there are a few exceptions to batteries that are biodegradable. 

Though they may not be available in plenty supply to meet the high demand available in the market.