Is It Legal To Throw Car Batteries In The Ocean? 

Disposing of dead electric car batteries is the most common problem with electric cars and since it is a relatively new problem, not all ways of disposal have been explored yet. There are many ways to dispose of electric car batteries in a safe and recyclable way, but what would happen if you just disposed of them in the ocean? 

Is it legal to throw car batteries in the ocean? It is illegal to throw your electric car battery in the ocean. Car batteries are filled with toxic metals like cobalt, lithium, nickel, and manganese. These materials would leach out into the ocean and kill numerous plant and animal life. 

This may seem like a very simple question to answer for yourself, but many people do not know about the numerous ways to dispose of their old electric car batteries. Many have disputed the best ways to do it, but all can agree that throwing them into the sea is the worst thing you could do to get rid of them. In this article, we will get into the reasons why you shouldn’t dump electric car batteries into the ocean and the best way to get rid of your used batteries. 

Why It’s Dangerous To Throw Car Batteries In The Ocean

For many obvious reasons, it is incredibly dangerous to throw any type of car battery into the ocean. It can destroy the environment surrounding it and can destroy animal life. But what causes batteries to be dangerous when thrown in the ocean? 

For electric car batteries, many chemicals will leach out into the water. These chemicals include dimethoxyethane, lithium, nickel, arsenic, and manganese. According to, arsenic causes death, stops reproduction and photosynthesis, and seeps into the animals that we eat. Lithium contaminates water and soil, kills animals, and it forms lithium hydroxide and hydrogen, making the surrounding water extremely flammable. When manganese is introduced to the ocean, plants are killed off, but when humans come into contact with this contaminated water, it affects the brain. 

For regular car batteries, lithium, lead, cadmium, and mercury are the most harmful chemicals that are found inside. Mercury enters the food chain through sediments and is then transferred to humans. If mercury is ingested it can be harmful to the lungs, kidney, immune and digestive systems, or it can be deadly. Lead stops reproduction in animals and plants and can also enter the food chain. Cadmium is also toxic to plants and animals. 

All of these chemicals make it back to humans in one way or another. We are directly affected if car batteries are thrown into the ocean. This is extremely dangerous to our environment and the delicate balance of the food chain and animal life. Our water and soil are already very polluted, but if car batteries are thrown into the ocean, it is only going to make the situation worse. 

Throwing both types of batteries into the ocean also causes major plastic pollution and will continue to choke up our oceans. Another thing that it can do is pollute the soil in sea beds. That soil will then travel through the flowing water onto beaches, coming into contact with humans, animals, and plants. This will impact our health as everything we come into contact with will have harmful chemicals inside. 

What Is The Punishment For Getting Caught Throwing A Battery Into The Ocean?

There are many penalties for disposing of your waste in an irresponsible manner. There are laws about it in all 50 states. The laws you would be breaking are considered illegal dumping, and it can be considered a felony or a misdemeanor (depending on the state you commit the crime in). 

Most of the punishments you will face if you commit this crime could be community service, major fines, jail time, remediation, or restitution. According to, you could also be charged with violating the Ocean Dumping Act and have a maximum fine of $250,000 or maximum imprisonment of 5 years. It’s not rational to risk the chance of being charged with this crime when you can easily just recycle your car battery, it is even free!.

How To Properly Dispose Of Old Car Batteries For Free

There are actually many ways to dispose of car batteries. There are recycling plants dedicated to recycling regular car batteries, you can drop them off at an automotive center, or a metal recycling plant. Most of the time, you are able to drop it off and they will take it for free. 

For electric car batteries, it is a little bit harder to dispose of them. They are starting to be recycled more often, and more ways are being developed to safely dispose of the materials. Sometimes you can just search up how to do it online and multiple businesses will pop up that will take your batteries for free! 

This is a very simple process and you won’t need to throw your batteries into the ocean. And more parts will start to be recycled! For an electric car battery, many things can be recycled, but it will take a little while for the recycling process to become more precise and common. Once they are, new electric car batteries will cost less because we will be reusing expensive materials. But this is only in a perfect world.

According to, they are picked up by the recycling plant or business and from there they are broken down with chemicals or heat. But from there, the process becomes difficult and expensive; this is stopping electric vehicle batteries from becoming more profitable. They have to be shipped by truck due to safety reasons across very long distances. The only real thing that can be profitably recycled is cobalt. But the number of materials that can be recycled from the batteries will continue to increase as new and safer ways to recycle come to light. 

Another way you could get rid of an electric car battery is to dump it in a landfill, but that is equally as harmful to the planet as throwing it in the ocean. All of the chemicals discussed before can leach into our waterways at a much faster rate. The same thing goes for agriculture. The chemicals will leach from the landfills, into the waterways, and then into our crops. The effects of this leaching will only be seen after a long time but could impact long-lasting health, and reproductive health, and cause many harmful diseases. 

Where Did This Ridiculous Question Even Come From?

Unsurprisingly,  this question came from Google. One day, as people searched for the answer to this question, the answer from the search engine appeared as, “Throwing car batteries into the ocean is good for the environment as they charge electric eels and power the Gulf stream.” It actually originated from a poster on Quora, and the search engine accidentally promoted the nonfactual answer. 

This accidental answer has perpetuated as a meme and still continues to show up on forums across the internet. As of now, it can sometimes be the first answer when searching for this question. This is going to lead to a lot of misinformation and is probably something that will never disappear, but it will get drowned out as more informational articles are published. This leads to the justification that you should always do your research before coming to a full conclusion. 


From all the information in this article, it should be apparent that you should not dump your car batteries into the ocean. There are much easier ways to dispose of your batteries, like at specialty shops, recycling plants, automotive shops, or metal recycling plants. All of these can be used for free and the batteries can even be picked up by the businesses themselves. 

Recycling is a better choice than paying a maximum fine of $250,000 or maximum imprisonment of 5 years. Dumping toxins into the ocean cannot be justified, it is only laziness and disregard for the environment. And if you dump the batteries into the ocean, the effects will always make their way back to you, harming your health or the environment directly around you. 

Related Question

Do electric car batteries end up in landfills? Every effort is made to keep electric car batteries out of landfills but there is a portion of electric car batteries that may end up there. Recycling electric car batteries are difficult and currently inefficient but progress is being made to create better ways of recycling them. Click here to read more.

Amanda Cannon

Amanda has an ever growing knowledge of cars with her education beginning when she was a little girl. She was frequently seen working on cars with her dad and today can be seen working on a 1966 Bronco, 1968 Firebird, and modifying her 2022 Bronco.

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