When the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) – now known as Call2Recycle® – was founded by the battery industry in 1994 to divert batteries from landfills, part of the motivation was to create a harmonized nationwide program that would lessen the needs to manage state-by-state requirements. That goal has been generally met: no state has implemented a mandatory battery product stewardship program since Call2Recycle’s inception (even though in 2011 New York State enacted legislation banning the disposal of rechargeable batteries as solid waste which requires battery companies to be financially responsible for end of life disposal). However, this point of view has changed.
Product stewardship is defined by the Product Stewardship Institute as “a policy that ensures that all those involved in the lifecycle of a product share responsibility for reducing its health and environmental impacts, with producers bearing the primary financial responsibility.”
So, why is product stewardship legislation, selectively enacted by states, so important for rechargeable batteries?
Over time, the nature of Call2Recycle’s “voluntary” program has evolved. While 200 committed and loyal manufacturers continue to voluntarily support the program, over 40% of what Call2Recycle now collects is not manufactured by these supporters. As the market migrates to different battery chemistries and the brand owners of these batteries are increasingly moving overseas, the percent of battery brands in the market that have voluntarily supported the program has decreased.
Legislation is needed to compel the “free-riders” of this collection system to participate in a qualified program. This would not only cover the costs of collecting these batteries, it would lessen the cost burden on those committed companies who do participate in the Call2Recycle program.
So, when you see legislation appear in selective states in 2013, join us in supporting it and its assistance it provides the Call2Recycle program.