Today, a New York State law goes into fact mandating all retailers to take back up to ten rechargeable batteries at a time for recycling even if you don’t buy anything. This includes re-chargeable batteries made of:

  • Nickel-cadmium
  • Sealed lead
  • Lithium ion
  • Nickel metal hydride
  • Any other such dry cell battery capable of being recharged
  • Battery packs containing any of the above-mentioned batteries

The law doesn’t cover batteries over 25 pounds, batteries as principal power source for a vehicle (including boats, golf carts, tractors, wheelchairs, etc.), batteries for alternative power source (solar, wind, etc.),  batteries for backup that are an integral component of an electronic device and normal batteries. Places like the LES Ecology Center or The 4th Bin can assist you with those.

And by December 5, 2011 it will be illegal for anybody to toss rechargeable batteries out in the trash, several years in advance of the 2015 law that will ban all electronics from being thrown out by residents. As a side note, the law technically says that  no “person” shall knowingly dispose of covered rechargeable batteries as solid waste at any time in New York. As defined in Subdivision 1-0303(18) of the Environmental Conservation Law of New York, “person” actually means “any individual, public or private corporation, political subdivision, government agency, department or bureau of the state, municipality, industry, co-partnership, association, firm, trust, estate or any other legal entity whatsoever.” So, everybody and everything.

How any of the bans will be put into practice and monitored is a question even those in office are wondering. For the rechargeable battery ban, manufacturers of the batteries are “responsible for financing the collection and recycling of the batteries, advertising the program to consumers, and reporting on the progress of their programs.” Seems like a lot of responsibility put on manufacturers. The only incentive seems to be avoiding the financial penalty. Manufacturers that violate the law are subject to a $2000 fine, which increases to $4000 for a 2nd violation within a year and $5000 for a third violation within the same year. People that violate the law are subject to a $50 fine, then $100, then $200 for  a third violation. Retailers are fined $200, then $400, then $500 for the third violation. But unlike the other e-waste laws, there don’t seem to be any metrics or goals targeted for volume recycled.

Regardless, you should start seeing signage in stores soon for rechargeable battery recycling!