NY Adopts Statewide
Rechargeable Battery Take Back Law
New directive for rechargeable batteries to reduce
toxics in our environment
New York, NY (December 15, 2010) On Monday, Governor Paterson signed into law a new requirement for manufacturers to take back and recycle rechargeable batteries in a statewide, manufacturer-funded program. This action follows the enactment of New York's first product stewardship law, the Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act, in May, 2010. "We are pleased to see New York embracing product stewardship as a new approach to managing materials and waste," said Katherine Bourbeau, coordinator of the New York Product Stewardship Council. "Through these two new laws, the producers of electronics and products containing rechargeable batteries will be required to establish recycling collection programs at no cost to consumers or taxpayers."
Product stewardship, also known as "extended producer responsibility," extends the role and responsibility of the manufacturer, producer or brand owner to include the entire life cycle of products, including the ultimate disposition of a product or package at the end of its useful life. Product stewardship programs incentivize green design, encouraging manufacturers to design products that are more easily recyclable, create less waste, and contain fewer toxic materials.
The rechargeable battery law adds rechargeable batteries from laptops, cell phones, cameras and other electronics to a growing list of products residents of New York State can return to retailers for recycling or proper management at the end of their useful life. Used plastics bags, lead-acid batteries and most beverage containers can already be returned through retailers for proper management after use.
Most rechargeable batteries contain toxic metals that can be released into the environment when disposed of, leaching into our soil if disposed of on the ground or emitted into our atmosphere if incinerated. The rechargeable batteries covered by this law include a number of different types of batteries designed to be recharged; nickel cadmium, sealed lead, lithium ion, nickel metal hydride and any other rechargeable batteries weighing less than 25 pounds. This law does not cover vehicle batteries or non-rechargeable batteries such as the common alkaline batteries.
"The rechargeable battery recycling law will protect the environment by getting these toxic materials out of our waste disposal facilities and protect New York's taxpayers by ensuring the costs are borne by manufacturers, not local governments," said Tom Rhoads, Executive Director of the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Authority and one of the founders of the New York Product Stewardship Council.
Under the new law, manufacturers of rechargeable batteries will be responsible for financing the collection and recycling of the batteries collected, advertising this program to consumers, and reporting on the progress of this new program. Retailers that sell rechargeable batteries will be required to accept used rechargeable batteries back from individuals during normal business hours and to post signs informing consumers about these requirements. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will be responsible for oversight of the program including reviewing and approving the manufacturer's collection plans and any reporting required. Consumers have an important responsibility in this effort by returning these batteries to retailers instead of disposing of them in their trash.
Manufacturers will have 90 days from the signing of the new law on December 13. 2010 to submit a collection and recycling plan to DEC. Retailers are required to accept batteries for recycling 180 days from that date. The program is modeled on the voluntary take back program initiated by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) that is already in place in many retail establishments across the state. "Call2Recycle commends New York's environmental leadership," said Carl Smith, president and CEO of Call2Recycle, operated by RBRC. "The passing of this bill allows us to expand our program and to educate many more New Yorkers on the importance of recycling their rechargeable batteries."