November 2005

California revises battery disposal laws effective February 2006

All batteries are considered hazardous waste in California when they are discarded. This includes all batteries of sizes AAA, AA, C, D, button cell, 9 Volt, and all other batteries, both rechargeable and single use. After February 8, 2006, all batteries in California must be recycled, or taken to a household hazardous waste disposal facility, a universal waste handler (e.g., storage facility or broker), or an authorized recycling facility.

By July 1, 2006, retailers selling rechargeable batteries are required by The Rechargeable Battery Act of 2006 to take back the batteries at no cost to the consumer. The law exempts stores that primarily sell food and retailers with annual gross sales of less than $1 million.

Batteries are considered hazardous because of the metals and/or other toxic or corrosive materials contain within. Batteries are potentially a valuable source of recyclable metal. However at this time, only rechargeable batteries are commonly recycled by industry. Single use batteries end up in landfills.

According to a report entitled, Household Universal Waste Generation in California, August 2002, there were 507,259,000 batteries sold in California in the year 2001. According to survey results published in the report, only 0.55% of these batteries were recycled.

Local trash companies or other agencies are allowed to ban these items from the trash any time before February 8, 2006. Large and small quantity handlers are required to ship their universal waste to another handler, a universal waste transfer station, a recycling facility, or a disposal facility. Under the California’s Universal Waste Rule, specified waste generators will be permitted to send specified universal wastes to landfills, but this disposal allowance will be phased out by 2006.


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