Bills to Create Statewide Battery Recycling Program Approved by California Legislature

For immediate release:
  • Joel Price
  • (805) 482-1904

Sacramento, Calif. — After years of effort to address battery waste and recycling, the California State
Legislature today passed a pair of bills, SB 1215 and AB 2440, which will create a statewide collection and
recycling program for consumer batteries and products that contain batteries.

California classifies batteries as hazardous waste and bans them from solid waste landfills because of the
hazardous metals and corrosive materials that batteries contain. When improperly discarded, batteries
pose serious fire, health and safety hazards that disrupt the state’s waste stream and poison the
environment.

“From talking greeting cards to electronic toothbrushes to smart watches, even though
battery-embedded products are now so thoroughly integrated into our modern lives, there was still no
standardized system for the safe and efficient collection and disposal of this class of potentially
hazardous waste,” said Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), author of SB 1215. “This ground-breaking
legislation represents a real solution to a longstanding problem and California will be better for its
passage.”

SB 1215 expands California’s existing Electronic Waste Recycling Act to include products containing
batteries that cannot be easily removed with household tools. This legislation helps to curb the amount
of battery-embedded products that are improperly disposed of so that they no longer pose a danger to
the companies and employees charged with managing our waste stream.

“Few people know that batteries are actually hazardous waste and those of us who do have containers
of used batteries we don’t know what to do with. This means the majority of batteries end up in
curbside waste bins, causing damage to our recycling facilities which ultimately requires rate payers to
pay more on our utility bills,” said Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), author of AB
2440. “AB 2440 changes this dynamic and requires the producer to pay for the collection of these
batteries. With so many of our everyday household items being powered by batteries, we have a
responsibility to alleviate the potential danger and recover the valuable minerals used in their
production.”

AB 2440 establishes the nation’s largest extended-producer responsibility (EPR) battery program.
Creating convenient collection and recycling for batteries, this bill will eliminate the threat of fires at
waste facilities and the recovery and reuse of the valuable and finite minerals contained in the batteries.

Together, these pieces of legislation will replace the current confusing and unsafe process for battery
disposal with a safe, convenient, and accessible system for consumers to dispose of depleted batteries
and battery-embedded products.

SB 1215 and AB 2440 await signature from the Governor.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“SB 1215 and AB 2440 are the culmination of more than four years of effort by the legislature to address
the existential threat that improperly-disposed batteries pose to our recycling system,” said Nick Lapis,
Director of Advocacy for Californians Against Waste, a co-sponsor of the bills. “Together these bills will
give consumers free and convenient battery recycling options for loose batteries and devices that have
batteries, which will not only keep batteries out of our environment but will also create thousands of
recycling jobs and will reduce the need for destructive mining of finite materials.”

“After working on this issue since 2014, including several legislative attempts with one in 2014 and then
the last four years straight, there is finally a consumer convenient solution to collect and properly
manage both loose batteries and battery-embedded products”, said Doug Kobold, executive director of
the California Product Stewardship Council, a co-sponsor of the bills. He goes on to say that “without
the perseverance of our Co-Sponsors, and more importantly, our Principal Co-Authors of both AB 2440
and SB 1215 and their staff members, we would not be here today. “

“This year alone, RethinkWaste has already suffered 6 fires due to a lithium-ion or suspected lithium-ion
battery. I fear every day an improperly disposed of product with an embedded battery or loose battery
could result in another catastrophic fire like the one we faced in 2016,” said Joe LaMariana, Executive
Director of RethinkWaste, a co-sponsor of the bills. “SB 1215 and AB 2440 together will protect our
workers and infrastructure from the growing number of batteries entering the waste stream on a daily
basis. We are grateful for Senator Newman and Assemblymember Irwin's leadership on this critical
issue.”

“I am proud to coauthor SB 1215 and AB 2440. I have seen firsthand the damage caused by improperly
discarded, lithium-ion batteries which can result in serious fire, health, and safety hazards. There has
been an alarming number of fires in material recovery facilities, waste collection trucks, and landfills
caused by improperly disposed of lithium-ion batteries including the Shoreway Environmental Center in
San Carlos. Such fires not only pollute the atmosphere and surrounding community, cause extensive
damage to city and county waste collection vehicles, equipment, and facilities, they also endanger the
lives of workers who handle consumer waste. The Responsible Recycling Act will ensure that consumers
have free access to collection sites while waste disposal workers are kept more safe from these fire
prone products,” said Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo).

“California must do a better job recycling materials and sorting out what ends up in our landfills.
Batteries are health and safety hazards for our environment and our workers. That is why I support this
bill to provide a convenient and accessible system for consumers to dispose of their batteries. It will
prevent fires, protect workers and reduce toxic waste,” said Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont).

“Today, even well-meaning Californians can create dire safety hazards – like the 2016 fire at the San
Carlos materials recovery facility – by placing rechargeable batteries into the wrong recycling stream. SB
1215 and AB 2440 will make it easier for Californians to safely recycle used household batteries,
including the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that can explode and ignite fires if they are not disposed
of properly. I’m a proud coauthor of this common-sense bill to simplify what is now a confusing,
multi-step process for Californians who want to do the right thing with their depleted batteries. Thank
you to Senator Newman and Assemblymember Irwin for their leadership on this legislation,” said
Senator Josh Becker (D-Peninsula).

“Consumers want to recycle, but we need to make it easier for them to do the right thing,” said
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine). “By making recycling free and convenient, rechargeable
Li-ion batteries will only be delivering energy to our products and no longer a toxic threat to our
environment.”

“It is estimated that 65% of California’s waste fires have been sparked by lithium ion batteries. Despite
the fact that it is already illegal to dispose of these batteries, their increased use has led to a
corresponding increase in their improper disposal, resulting in fires to waste collection vehicles and
facilities. California needs to address the issue head on. That is why I am proud to join Senator Newman
and Assemblymember Irwin as a coauthor of the Responsible Battery Recycling Act which will establish a
long overdue battery collection and recycling program,” said Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera).

To schedule an interview with Senator Newman, contact Lizzie Cootsona at 916.651.4029 and to
schedule an interview with Assemblymember Irwin, contact Joel Price at 916.319.2144.

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State Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which is comprised of portions of Los
Angeles County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County. The 29th District includes all or parts of the
cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, City of Industry, Cypress, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, La
Habra, La Palma, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Stanton, Walnut, West Covina and Yorba Linda. Senator
Newman is a former United States Army officer, businessperson, and veterans’ advocate, and lives in
Fullerton with his wife and daughter.

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin represents California’s 44th Assembly District, which includes the
communities of Camarillo, El Rio, Moorpark, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake
Village. Assemblymember Irwin’s website: http://asmdc.org/irwin