Batteries, used in an abundant of consumer electronics, contain a host of heavy metals, some quite toxic to people, wildlife, and the environment. These metals can and should be recycled, not disposed of in landfills or combusted in garbage burning plants. Doing so will improve the environment, add an additional safeguard to improve public health and provide economic opportunities in the recycling market.
State law (Chapter 562 of 2010), already requires that all rechargeable batteries be recycled and places the burden of recycling where it belongs – on the retailers that sell the batteries and, ultimately, the battery producers. This bill extends that concept to primary batteries, meaning non-rechargeable batteries.
It is important to note that the inspiration behind this bill came from Eliot Seol of Queens. At age 11, Eliot, concerned about the harm that batteries have on the Earth, came to Albany in 2015 to request that a law be enacted to require the recycling of primary batteries. New York State owes it to Eliot and the future generations he represents to make it law this year.
The bill could be improved by including a ban on the disposal of primary batteries like the one that already exists for rechargeable batteries.
This bill adds a new section to Environmental Conservation Law to establish a product stewardship or “take-back” program for primary batteries. The bill prohibits battery producers from selling or offering for sale primary batteries unless the producer has: 1) registered with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC); 2) has paid an annual fee of between $7,500 and $15,000; and, 3) has an approved primary battery stewardship plan. The bill requires battery producers to provide consumers with free and convenient collection of primary batteries. The bill authorizes the DEC to promulgate regulations if deemed necessary and includes penalties of up to $1,000 for each day of non-compliance.