Batteries

 

The Problem

In the U.S., consumers purchase over three billion single-use and rechargeable batteries  each year. Although there are many battery recycling programs across North America, many consumers are unaware of why recycling batteries is so important, and how to do so. The vast majority of batteries end up in landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. This improper disposal unnecessarily squanders resources and energy, represents a missed opportunity for recycling jobs, and can result in groundwater and air contamination. 

 

A Solution

Through battery extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs, manufacturers are required to provide consumers with a convenient way to responsibly manage discarded batteries. Through producer funding, EPR offers an effective, sustainable financing system that increases the collection and recycling of leftover batteries, reduces government and overall costs of battery management, and lessens environmental impacts. As of September 2017, there are 11 battery EPR laws in 9 states for different battery types, and new bills continue to be introduced. In May 2014, Vermont passed a first-in-the-nation EPR law covering single-use batteries. In 2016, the first year of implementation, Vermont increased the collection of batteries (both primary and rechargeable) by over 180 percent.

Call2Recycle, the largest and oldest battery collection and recycling organization in the U.S. and Canada, provides free rechargeable battery collection containers for qualified retailers, municipal recycling programs, and organizations.

While some states require Call2Recycle to finance and manage a collection program for rechargeable batteries only, others, like Vermont, require the organization to recover single-use batteries on top of the voluntary rechargeable program, making it easier for the consumer. The most successful battery collection programs prioritize consumer convenience in collection locations, accept both types of batteries, and include significant consumer outreach and education.


PSI's Role in Delivering Solutions

Provides Technical Assistance 

PSI provides technical support to help stakeholders launch new battery stewardship initiatives or modify existing programs. In recent years, PSI has held six webinars on battery stewardship that explored strategies to improve collection, the role of retailers, and innovations in battery design using recycled content. PSI members and partners receive access to additional information. 

 

Brings Stakeholders Together

PSI brings together industry, state and local governments, recyclers, and NGOs to improve the collection and recycling of batteries. For instance, in June 2014, PSI facilitated a national battery stewardship dialogue meeting that drew more than 130 government attendees (representing 23 states), as well as representatives from industry, recyclers, and the retail sector.

 

Advocates for EPR Legislation

PSI monitors, informs, and advocates for battery product stewardship legislation. We offer expert testimony supporting EPR legislation for hearings, track state legislation to keep our members up to date, and work with state and local governments to introduce EPR bills.

Conducts Research and Evaluates Programs

PSI offers research and analysis services to inform and shape product stewardship policy. With input from government and industry stakeholders, PSI developed a Battery Stewardship Briefing Document and an Elements of an Effective All-Battery EPR Bill document (both accessible to PSI members and partners) to serve as a basis for discussions and development of model legislation in the U.S. The Elements document is also useful as a gauge against which to measure new battery bills.

In addition, PSI’s Battery Performance Metrics: Recommendations for Best Practices report evaluates lessons learned from the U.S. and the world to showcase how to best evaluate battery take-back programs to increase effectiveness.  

Creates Toolkits and Online Resources

PSI provides tools for governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders looking to start or promote battery take-back programs. PSI’s U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded projects in 2015 and 2017 promoted free battery collection for local governments and retailers in rural communities through the use of flyers and other resources.



We provide exclusive battery-specific resources for PSI Members and Partners -- login  or learn more.

 
For more information, please contact Suna Bayrakal at (617) 671-0616. 
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