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California lawmakers passed two bills, Senate Bill 1215 and Assembly Bill 2440, to create a statewide collection and recycling program for consumer batteries and products containing batteries.

California classifies batteries as hazardous waste and prohibits them from landfills due to the hazardous metals and corrosive materials they contain. SB 1215, authored by California Senator Josh Newman, expands the state’s existing electronic waste recycling law to include products containing batteries that cannot be easily removed without household tools. AB 2440 establishes an extensive Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) battery program, also helping to eliminate the threat of fire in waste and recycling facilities.

“From talking greeting cards to electronic toothbrushes to smartwatches, even though built-in battery products have become so well integrated into our modern lives, there was still no standardized system for collecting and safe and effective disposal of this class of potentially hazardous waste,” says Newman.

According to a press release from Senator Newman website, the SB 1215 helps limit the number of built-in battery products that are improperly disposed of so that they no longer pose a hazard to businesses and the employees responsible for managing them. The press release also says that these two pieces of legislation replace the state’s current battery disposal process with what the legislature hopes will be a “safer, more convenient and accessible system for consumers to dispose of depleted batteries and battery-integrated products”.

California Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, author of AB 2440, says too many used batteries end up in trash cans and recycling containers, damaging recycling facilities and leaving taxpayers to pay bills higher public services. She says this bill will force producers to pay for battery collection instead.

“With so many of our everyday household items powered by batteries, we have a responsibility to mitigate potential danger and recover the valuable minerals used in their production,” adds Irwin.

Several representatives and organizations of the recycling industry have expressed their support for these bills.

Based in Atlanta Call2Recyclea battery collection program, says AB 2440 can help improve battery recycling safety in the state.

“As batteries propel the United States toward a carbon-neutral economy, it is imperative that states and municipalities implement industry best practices that promote the safe and sustainable collection and recycling of batteries,” says Leo Raudys, CEO of Call2Recycle. “We look forward to working with the State of California to continue to build on our 26 years of operating a battery management program in the state.”

Joe LaMariana, Executive Director of San Carlos, CA RethinkWaste and co-sponsor of the bills, adds that these regulations will help reduce the risk of fires at state recycling facilities.

“This year alone, RethinkWaste has already experienced six fires due to a lithium-ion battery or suspected lithium-ion battery,” he says. “I worry every day that an improperly disposed product with a built-in battery or a loose battery could lead to another catastrophic fire like the one we faced in 2016. SB 1215 and AB 2440 together will protect our workers and infrastructure from the increasing number of batteries entering the waste stream daily. We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Newman and Assemblyman Irwin on this critical issue.

In addition, California Commodity Management Board Executive Director Doug Kobold says these bills provide a “convenient solution for the consumer to collect and properly manage bulk batteries and in-battery products.”

SB 1215 and AB 2440 are awaiting approval from California Governor Gavin Newsom.