Options to Dispose of Household Batteries, Mercury & Pharmaceuticals

Do you have batteries, old mercury thermometers or thermostats, or old medications lying around? If so, the City of Urbana has drop-off recycling options to properly dispose of those materials.

There are five battery drop-off locations in Urbana, accepting single-use (alkaline) and rechargeable batteries. The five locations are the Anita Purves Nature Center (1505 N. Broadway Ave.); Phillips Recreation Center (505 W. Stoughton St.); Urbana City Building (west entrance, 400 S. Vine St.); Urbana Free Library (near circulation desk, 210 W. Green St.); and Urbana Public Works (706 S Glover Ave.)

Battery types accepted include single-use alkaline, lithium, button cell and rechargeable batteries. Lithium, button cell and rechargeable batteries must have terminal ends taped with clear tape for safety reasons.

Mercury Thermometers & Thermostats
There is one drop-off location for mercury thermometers and thermostats in Urbana. Urbana residents only (proof of residency required) may bring mercury thermometers or thermostats to Urbana Public Works (706 S. Glover Ave.) during business hours, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. for recycling. Each thermometer or thermostat must be intact for recycling. “We will not accept mercury ‘balls’ or broken thermometers or thermostats. Each individual thermometer or thermostat must be placed in a sealed bag (no grocery or retail bags) for acceptance,” said Courtney Kwong, recycling coordinator for the City of Urbana. “Mercury poses a huge threat in our environment to human and animal health,” Kwong said. “We want to eliminate mercury from entering landfills and waterways where animals such as fish can ingest and work its way up the food chain. Moreover, if humans are directly exposed to mercury it may cause neurological effects.” If you have broken mercury thermometers, thermostats or mercury balls, please keep them in a sealed bag in a safe location away from pets and children until Urbana has a household hazardous waste collection event. The City of Urbana and other municipalities in Champaign County are working on developing a one-day collection event in 2018 for hazardous waste.

Locally there are four drop-box locations for used medications at the Urbana Police Department (400 S. Vine St.); Champaign Police Department (82 E. University Ave., Champaign); University of Illinois Police Department (1110 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana); and one Walgreens store (1713 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign). Here is a list of acceptable and non-acceptable pharmaceuticals:

  • Accepted items: prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, pet medications, vitamins and supplements, medicated ointments including lotions and creams, liquid medications in leakproof containers.
  • Items NOT accepted: needles and sharps, syringes with needles, thermometers, IV bags, bloody or infectious waste, empty containers, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans, full inhalers.


Drop boxes are open 24-7 to the public. Some tips to take include marking out your name and any personal information on the medication bottle, and placing liquid medication in leak proof containers and placing into a sealed bag. You do not need to empty pill bottles into the drop box – you can leave the pills in their original containers. According to Kwong, it is important to properly dispose of pharmaceuticals because you don’t want them to get into the wrong hands, or pollute waterways or drinking water. Do not flush pharmaceuticals down the toilet or dispose of in the regular trash.

Questions regarding these drop-off programs may be directed to U-Cycle at 217/384-2302.

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Created on: Friday, September 29, 2017 - 08:33
- Author: NatalieK