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Batteries

Every year in the United States, Americans buy, use and throw out billions of batteries. The demand for batteries can be traced largely to the rapid increase in cordless, portable products such as cellular phones, video cameras, laptop computers, and battery-powered tools and toys. Because some types of batteries still contain toxic constituents, such as mercury and cadmium, they can pose a potential threat to human health and the environment if improperly disposed. Batteries, especially those with toxic constituents, should be recycled. Manufacturers and retailers have important roles in helping to reduce the environmental impact of batteries by redesigning batteries in ways that eliminate or reduce toxic constituents and by making them more recyclable at the end of their useful life. Manufacturer and retailer participation is also key to increasing recycling opportunities for batteries.

Over the past decade, the battery industry, partly in response to public concerns and legislation, has played an active role in finding solutions to these problems. Industry efforts have touched on every stage of the product life cycle:

For more information on batteries, including relevant legislation, industry initiatives and publications, please visit EPA’s Common Wastes and Materials Battery page.

Resources

EPA’s Universal Waste Battery Web Site. The universal waste regulations streamline collection requirements for certain hazardous wastes including batteries.

Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) Exit EPA: RBRC is a nonprofit, public service organization funded by rechargeable product and battery manufacturers. RBRC educates manufacturers, retailers, and consumers about the benefits of rechargeable battery recycling and, with the help of retailers and others, provides convenient collection points for recovery of rechargeable batteries. While originally limited to nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries, the RBRC recycling program has since expanded to include all portable rechargeable battery chemistries.

Battery Council International (BCI) Exit EPA: This organization, representing lead-acid battery manufacturers, promotes the recycling of spent lead-acid batteries and the use of recycled materials in the production of new ones.

Industry Program to Collect and Recycle Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) Batteries Exit EPA. A report on Ni-Cd battery collection by Bette Fishbein. INFORM, Inc.

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