FAQ: An Overview of the Newly Updated U.S. DOT Lithium Standards

In July 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) issued updated standards to the US transportation regulations for lithium batteries. These updates offer a greater level of consistency between the US DOT regulations and international transportation regulations.

Call2Recycle shares details on the changes and the impact on your organization’s battery recycling program. For more information, visit the DOT website.

What are the new standards?
The new DOT standards improve the safety of lithium cells and batteries during shipment. The updated standards were developed for safe collection and transportation of lithium batteries. These changes are intended to reduce the possibility of damage during normal transportation conditions. Some of the changes focus specifically on the transportation of batteries on airplanes.

Which battery types are addressed in the new standards?
The updated standards apply to shipments of lithium metal (primary) and rechargeable Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries within the U.S..

What has changed in terms of Li-Ion battery recycling?
The following highlights will have minimal impact on Call2Recycle’s rechargeable Li-Ion battery recycling program. These changes have been incorporated into Call2Recycle’s shipping requirements and will not affect the overall physical shipping process.

  • New, separate shipping descriptions for lithium metal batteries (UN 3090) and Lithium Ion batteries (UN 3480);
  • Revised requirements for the transport of lithium batteries for disposal or recycling;
  • New provisions for the transport of damaged, defective and recalled lithium batteries.
  • Establish regulation exceptions for Li-ion batteries and Lithium primary batteries to now be based on Watt-hour (Wh) instead of equivalent lithium content.

What is the deadline for compliance with the changes?
The mandatory deadline for compliance is August 7, 2015. Voluntary compliance began in 2014.

What do I need to do?
Call2Recycle has taken the appropriate measures to incorporate the new standards for the transportation of lithium batteries. As long as you are collecting and shipping batteries in a Call2Recycle box less than two years old or using our bulk shipment offering, no further action is required. If your boxes are more than two years old or you aren’t sure, please contact our Customer Service Team at 1.877.2.RECYCLE (1.877.273.2925) or email us for more information.

Will the Call2Recycle program meet the new standards requirements by the deadline?
Yes. Call2Recycle works closely with the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) so that Call2Recycle’s boxes and bulk shipping paperwork adhere to these new standards. The biggest change will be in the communication and labeling requirements during transportation, including shipping labels and bills of lading for bulk shipments.

Can I still use my Call2Recycle collection boxes?
You can continue to use our Call2Recycle boxes if they are less than two years old as they continue to be authorized under Call2Recycle’s DOT special permit. If your boxes are more than two years old or you aren’t sure of their age, please contact our Customer Service Team at 1.877.2.RECYCLE (1.877.273.2925) or email us for more information.

Does this affect my bulk shipments to Call2Recycle?
The standards do not affect your physical collection or shipment process. However, they do affect the labeling, shipping language and shipping paperwork. We have incorporated the new requirements into our bulk shipping online wizard (Bill of Lading Wizard). Just follow the wizard’s instructions and use the printable documents.

Why did the DOT change its standards?
The DOT states that changes add an additional layer of protection to the shipment of lithium batteries, particularly for people who travel with or ship lithium batteries. The standards also improve the consistency between US terminology and international standards as outlined in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods.

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