[GRRN] Battery Release

Michele Raymond (michele@raymond.com)
Thu, 08 Apr 1999 09:16:13 -0400

Report Questions 90% Recovery=20
Goals for Ni-Cd Batteries

Contact: Michele Raymond 301-345-4237

Despite a patchwork of takeback laws and landfill bans of rechargeable
batteries in nine states and 15 countries, it is unclear whether industry
will be able to reach the lofty recycling goals set by governments for
"hazardous" units.
This is one conclusion of a new report, "Battery Recovery Laws Worldwide"
published this week by Raymond Communications, Inc., College Park MD.
The report finds that while a number of countries and one state
(Minnesota) require a 90% recovery rate for nickel cadmium (ni-cd's)
rechargeable batteries, no country has been able to recover more than 60%.
Moreover, as fast as manufacturers can set up a recovery scheme for
ni-cd's, they are turning to lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries
in the U.S., =96 which are not considered "hazardous" and require no takebac=
in most areas.
Manufacturers that have few alternatives to the ni-cd - (e.g. power tools
and camcorders) are in an uphill battle in Europe to convince European
Union regulators that cadmium batteries should not be banned all together.
Publisher Michele Raymond notes that because of "hoarding" of various home
electronics by consumers, manufacturers subject to takeback are saddled
with estimating how many "old" batteries will somehow make it to recycling,
with little data to go by.
"When regulators banned mercury in batteries, they thought it would wipe
out mercury batteries in the waste stream. Eventually this will happen, but
studies show it will take many years because people keep old alkaline
batteries around the house too."
The report also finds that=20

=95 Collection and recovery of batteries is not cheap. U.S. manufacturers pa=
out about $7.5 million per year but manage to collect and recover about
2,500 tons of ni-cd batteries.
=95 Small sealed lead acid batteries are regulated by the national labeling
law and are supposed to have recovery programs in five states. However,
sources say many companies have ignored labeling laws. We are told "about
half" of the SSLA's are somehow getting recycled through the auto battery
takeback outlets, though there is no published data. =20
=95 Consumers find it difficult to sort out which batteries to recycle or
take back but mandating recovery of all batteries won't work. Yet there are
no deposits, which might provide an incentive for takeback.
=95 Nine states ban household batteries from landfills, but enforcement of
such a law is nearly impossible.
=95 U.S. states have not yet enforced their battery takeback laws, and not
all companies are paying fees into the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp
(RBRC). This means larger companies are subsidizing collection for those
not paying. Enforcement with small Asian manufacturers has proven to be
=95Getting 20,000 retailers, and hundreds of municipalities to cooperate
fully on a battery collection =20
plan is a challenge, and battery makers are finding there are pitfalls to
managing such a complex network.
Outside the U.S., the picture gets even more complex for manufacturers
that use batteries. For example:
Draft amendments to the EU batteries Directive would require 75% recovery
of all household batteries. It would also ban cadmium batteries, which
would require costly re-tooling for a number of firms making power tools,
camcorders, and other small appliances.
Austria requires a crossed-out lavatory symbol on batteries, in addition
to the crossed-out wheelie bin.
Switzerland's new law required advance disposal fees on ni cd's, and if
an 80% recovery rate is not achieved within six years, deposits will be
required. The fee works out to about 13 cents per battery.
The Netherlands requires a 90% recovery rate for batteries =96 which has
not been achieved. The highest recycling rate reported is about 60%.
In Europe and Asia, the more stringent countries either have or want
takebacks for all batteries, even though only ni-cd's and lead acid
batteries have any genuine toxics in them.
The market for rechargeable batteries is expected to boom in the less
developed countries as they catch up in laptop computers and cell phones
usage, the report says. So despite a host of conflicting regulation in the
developed world, it appears that the bulk of "hazardous" batteries could
end up trashed in areas where there is no recycling infrastructure to deal
with them.
Many developing countries may soon pass their own takeback laws for
batteries =96 even though international agreements (e.g. Basel Convention)
will prohibit moving the battery scrap between countries for processing.
Designed to be a practical guide for companies that sell electronic
products with batteries in them, the 80-page report provides a summary of
how takeback of batteries works in the U.S, with an analysis of the=
Battery Laws Worldwide also includes summaries of takeback and labeling
regulations for rechargeable and household batteries in 24 countries, phone
contacts, and a color plate on voluntary color coding in Japan. =20
The report's 55-page appendix includes tables of U.S. state and
international laws, full text of some of the more stringent international
laws, and other helpful documents. The report comes with a disk containing
detailed RBRC documents, statistics, and many full texts of laws, as well
as a spreadsheet in Excel format that summarizes electronics and battery
takeback and labeling laws in 24 countries.
Raymond Communications publishes the newsletters State Recycling Laws
Update and Recycling Laws International, and organizes the Take it Back!
=9199 conference May 13-14. Battery Recovery Laws Worldwide is $297 U.S.;
$247 for subscribers to the newsletters. =09
Information: Call 301-345-4237; Fax 301-345-4768 Web site:
http://www.raymond.com; E-Mail michele@raymond.com=20

Michele Raymond
Recycling Laws International/ State Recycling Laws Update
5111 Berwyn Rd. Ste 115 College Park, MD 20740)
301/345-4237 Fax 345-4768