Acknowledging the steady increase in the use of rechargeable batteries,
as well as potential environmental impacts from their improper
disposal, the U.S. Congress passed the Battery Act in 1996 to
promote the collection and recycling or proper disposal of used
nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries, used small sealed lead-acid
(SSLA) batteries, and certain other regulated batteries; educate
the public about recycling and disposal of regulated batteries;
and establish uniform national labeling requirements for regulated
batteries. The Battery Act was also passed to limit the mercury
content in some consumer batteries and prohibit the sale in the
United States of certain consumer batteries that contain added
mercury. The goals of the Battery Act falls under two separate
titles, Title I: Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act, and Title
II, Mercury-Containing Battery Management Act. The Act targets
battery and product manufacturers and battery waste handlers
Components of the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable
Battery Management Act (Battery Act)
and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996 (P.L.104-142)
of Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act
(11/97) (EPA 530-K-97-009) (PDF, 8489.1KB,
The Goals of the Battery Act:
To phase out the use of mercury in batteries and provide for the
efficient and cost-effective collection and recycling or proper
disposal of used nickel cadmium batteries, small sealed lead-acid
batteries, and certain other batteries, and for other purposes.
Main Features of the Battery Act:
To establish national, uniform labeling
requirements for Ni-Cd and certain small sealed lead-acid
(SSLA) rechargeable batteries
To mandate that Ni-Cd and certain small
sealed lead-acid (SSLA) rechargeable batteries be "easily
removable" from consumer products. A battery can
be easily removed if it is detachable or removable from
the product with the use of common household tools.
- To make the Universal Waste Rule effective immediately in
all 50 states for the collection, storage, and transportation
of batteriescovered by the Battery Act.
- To require EPA to establish a public education program on
battery recycling and the proper handling and disposal of
used batteries. EPA is required to consult with manufacturers
and retailers to carry out this initiative.
- To prohibit, or otherwise condition, the sale of certain
types of mercury containing batteries (i.e. alkaline-manganese,
zinc-carbon, button cell mercuric-oxide, and other mercuric
oxide batteries) in the United States
Battery Act Regulations
The Agency has not yet developed regulations for implementing the
Battery Act. EPA has the authority to enforce most of the provisions
of the statute without regulations.
Section 5 of the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management
Act (Battery Act) addresses EPA's enforcement authority. Section
7 also allows states to adopt and enforce and enforce standards
and requirements identical to those imposed by the Battery Act.
Except for the provision relating to the easy removability and
environmental labeling requirements under Section 103(d) and requirements
for implementing the Universal Waste Rule under Section 104 allows
the states to enact and enforce more stringent standards and requirements
compared to the Battery Act.
Battery Act Enforcement
EPA may issue an administrative order to any person who violates
the Battery Act. The order may impose a civil penalty also require
compliance. EPA may also bring a civil action against persons
who fail to comply with an order issued under the Act. The Act
restricts enforcement against retailers for offering an unmodified
battery or product that was purchased ready for sale and sold,
offered for sale, or offered for promotional purposes. This exemption
does not apply to the initial manufacturer or other persons who
modify or sell such batteries to a retailer. If the retailer is
an importer of batteries who sells them knowing that they contain
materials prohibited under the Act, EPA may also take enforcement
action against that retailer.
- Who must comply with the Battery Act?
Battery and product manufacturers and battery waste handlers
not the consumers.
- What are the penalties for noncompliance?
EPA may impose a penalty of no more than $10,000 for each violation
of the Battery Act.
EPA publishes the "Enforcement Alert"
Newsletter, an informational publication, that is intended to
inform and educate the public and regulated community about important
environmental enforcement issues, recent trends, and significant
enforcement actions. The information contained in each issue should
help the regulated community anticipate and prevent violations
of federal environmental laws and the applicable regulations that
could otherwise lead to enforcement actions. New issues are published
on an irregular basis, as EPA see the need to provides alerts
on enforcement concerns. Past issues of an Enforcement Alert have
highlighted such Battery Act enforcement concerns as:
'Battery Act' -- Law Creates Public Health, Environmental Safeguards
Through Phase Out of Mercury Batteries and Other Important Requirements"
Volume 5, Number 2 (March 2002) (EPA 300-N-02-002) (PDF-
61KB, 4 pages)
Listing of Enforcement Alerts
Other Federal Laws and Regulations Relating to Battery Management
Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA)
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act consists collectively
of the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965 (SWDA) and the subsequent
amendments to it. It was passed to eliminate the problem of solid
and hazardous waste and its potential risks to human health and
the environment. It placed controls on the generation, transportation,
treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste, as well establishing
a framework for the management of non-hazardous waste. Additionally,
it sets forth statutory authorities and liability for owners and
operators of facilities that fail to comply with the statutory
and regulatory requirements. Universal
waste, that includes certain batteries, are controlled under
Subtitle C, Hazardous Wastes, Subpart 273.
Both the U.S. Department of Transportation and EPA, under RCRA,
regulate the transportation of hazardous waste and hazardous materials
which includes certain batteries. State Departments of Transportation
are primarily responsible for enforcement through their own laws
and regulations. Two of the most important aspects are the proper
labeling and placarding of materials being shipped.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability
Act of 1980 (CERCLA), also know as "Superfund"
was enacted address the problems of hazardous waste found at inactive
or abandoned sites or those resulting from spills that require
Information on the other federal hazardous waste laws and regulation
can be found in the Office of Solid Waste's Laws, Regulations,
and Policies section which lists documents and other information
organized by subject.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
OSHA regulates employee exposure to hazardous chemicals in the
workplace. RCRA hazardous waste generators and transportation,
storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs) may need to comply with
OSHA training and planning standards (e.g., 29 C.F.R. 1910.1200,
29 C.F.R. 1910.120, 29 C.F.R. 1910.38); RCRA hazardous waste operations
and RCRA corrective action activities at generator facilities
and TSDFs also may need to comply with health and safety training
requirements, as do CERCLA remediations (site cleanups).
State Laws and Regulations Relating to Battery Management
Prior to enactment of the federal Battery Act, several states had
their own laws and regulations to facilitate the collection and
recycling of used rechargeable batteries. These laws required
that rechargeable dry cell batteries be labeled as recyclable
and be easily removable from consumer products. Although somewhat
similar, there were slight differences in the laws and regulations
from state to state. Because of this, the federal law was written
so that it takes precedence over state laws governing battery
The Universal Waste Rule, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery
Act (RCRA), however does not automatically apply in each state.
In states authorized by EPA to implement the federal hazardous
waste program, the rule is not applicable until those states have
revised their programs to adopt equivalent requirements under
state law and receive authorization from EPA.
The following link on the EPA Office of Solid Waste site links
to the EPA Regional and state environmental regulatory sites.
State regulations and requirements for most states are available.
State and Territory Web Sites
The Association of State and Territorial
Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) maintains another
site that has links to state and state environment agency web
sites. The association is a group that enhances and promotes effective
state and territorial waste management and that affects the national
waste manage practices. ASTSWMO provides an important interface
between the state and federal programs and the policies that are
State and State Environmental
Agency Web Sites