Abstract Lithium borohydride (LiBH4) and sodium borohydride (NaBH4) were synthesized via mechanical milling of LiBO2, and NaBO2 with Mg–Al-based waste under controlled gaseous atmosphere conditions. Following this approach, the results herein presented indicate that LiBH4 and NaBH4 can be formed with a high conversion yield starting from the anhydrous borates under 70 bar H2. Interestingly, NaBH4 can also be obtained with a high conversion yield by milling NaBO2·4H2O and Mg–Al-based waste under an argon atmosphere. Under optimized molar ratios of the starting materials and milling parameters, NaBH4 and LiBH4 were obtained with conversion ratios higher than 99.5%. Based on the collected experimental results, the influence of the milling energy and the correlation with the final yields were also discussed.