There are several chemical compositions of single-use and rechargeable batteries in common commercial use, including alkaline, nickel cadmium, lithium ion, and lead acid. The dangerous waste rules adopted by the Department of Ecology (Ecology) allow businesses to manage most types of batteries as universal waste, which allows the batteries to be managed consistently with universally-applicable waste containment, management, accumulation, labeling, shipment, and release response criteria. Ecology encourages household generators of battery waste to take them to a household hazardous waste collection facility. Another option is to return the batteries to the place of purchase, if the retailer participates in a battery return program. Some product and battery manufacturers and retailers participate voluntarily in programs to promote battery recycling.
Washington has established five types of product stewardship programs: electronic products; light bulbs that contain mercury?such as compact fluorescent lights; photovoltaic solar panels; pharmaceuticals; and paint. The Electronic Products Stewardship Program provides for the collection and management of batteries and other components contained in covered electronic products.
The state's product stewardship programs require producers to participate in a stewardship organization or program that is responsible for the collection, transport, and end-of-life management of covered products. Ecology is responsible for the oversight of the state's product stewardship programs, with the exception of the Pharmaceutical Stewardship Program, which is overseen by the Department of Health.
Under state solid waste laws, Ecology implements and enforces a Vehicle Battery Recycling Program. Batteries covered by the Vehicle Battery Recycling Program include batteries with a core of elemental lead capable of use in any vehicle, truck, boat, airplane, or utility vehicle, and capable of producing six or more volts. The Vehicle Battery Recycling Program prohibits the disposal of covered batteries except by delivery to a person selling lead acid batteries, Ecology-authorized collectors, or to a secondary lead smelter. The retail sale of each vehicle battery must include in the price of battery sale, a core charge of at least $5, which is applied unless the purchaser offers the seller an equivalent used battery. People that sell vehicle batteries at retail in Washington must accept used vehicle batteries from a battery purchaser at the time of purchase of a replacement battery, and must post notices to inform customers of certain requirements of the Vehicle Battery Recycling Program.
Producer Stewardship Plans. Beginning January 1, 2027, each producer selling or distributing covered batteries or battery-containing products in or into Washington must participate in an approved battery stewardship plan through participation in and appropriate funding of a battery stewardship organization.
A producer that does not participate in a battery stewardship organization and battery stewardship plan may not sell covered batteries or battery-containing products in or into Washington.
"Covered battery" means a portable battery or, beginning January 1, 2029, a medium format battery. "Portable battery" means the following primary and rechargeable covered batteries:
"Primary battery" means a battery that is not capable of being recharged.
"Medium format battery" means the following primary or rechargeable covered batteries:
Covered batteries do not include:
A "battery containing product" means a product containing or packaged with primary or rechargeable covered batteries, but does not include an electronic product covered by the Electronic Products Stewardship Program.
"Battery stewardship organization" means a producer that directly implements a battery stewardship plan or nonprofit organization designated by a producer or group of producers to implement a battery stewardship plan.
Marking Requirements. Beginning January 1, 2028, a producer or retailer may only sell a large format battery, covered battery, or battery-containing product that contains a battery designed or intended to be easily removeable from the product, if the battery is:
Role of Retailers. Beginning July 1, 2027, for portable batteries, and July 1, 2029, for medium format batteries, retailers are prohibited from selling or distributing a covered battery or battery-containing product unless the batteries are marked consistent with program requirements, and the producer of the covered battery or battery-containing product participated in a battery stewardship organization whose plan has been approved by Ecology.
Producers of covered batteries and battery-containing products are required to certify to a retailer they are participating in the program, and for battery-containing products, that the covered batteries contained in the product meet program marking requirements. A retailer may rely on this certification from producers of covered batteries and battery-containing products, as well as Ecology's published list of participating producers for purposes of complying with the sales prohibition.
Retailers of covered batteries or battery-containing products are not required to make retail locations available to serve as collection sites for a stewardship program operated by a battery stewardship organization. A retailer that chooses to serve as a collection site is subject to program collection site requirements. A retailer may provide information, provided by the battery stewardship organization, regarding available end-of-life management options for covered batteries.
Retailers, producers, or battery stewardship organizations may not charge a specific point-of-sale fee to cover the administrative or operational costs of the battery stewardship organization or program.
Stewardship Plan Components. By July 1, 2026, or within six months of the adoption of program rules, whichever comes later, each battery stewardship organization must submit a plan for covered portable batteries to Ecology for approval. Within 24 months of the date of the initial adoption of rules by Ecology, each battery stewardship organization must submit a plan for covered medium format batteries to Ecology for approval.
Ecology must review and approve a plan based on whether it contains and adequately addresses several program components, including:
A battery stewardship organization must submit a new plan to Ecology for approval:
If required by Ecology, a battery stewardship organization must provide plan amendments to Ecology for approval when:
As part of a quarterly update, a battery stewardship organization must notify Ecology after a producer begins or ceases to participate in a battery stewardship organization.
No earlier than five years after initial approval of the plan, Ecology may require a battery stewardship organization to submit a revised plan, which may include improvements to the collection site network or increased expenditures dedicated to education and outreach if the approved plan has not met performance goals.
Performance Goals. Each battery stewardship plan must include performance goals that measure, on an annual basis, the achievements of the program. Performance goals must take into consideration technical feasibility and economic practicality in achieving continuous, meaningful progress for improving:
The performance goals established in each battery stewardship plan must include, but are not limited to:
Funding. Each battery stewardship organization must ensure adequate funding is available to fully implement approved battery stewardship plans, including implementation of aspects of the plan addressing:
A battery stewardship organization implementing a battery stewardship plan on behalf of producers must develop, and continually improve over the years, a system to collect charges from participating producers to cover the costs of plan implementation in an environmentally sound and socially just manner that encourages the use of design attributes that reduce the environmental impacts of covered batteries, such as through the use of eco-modulated fees.
Examples of fee structures that meet these requirements include using eco-modulated fees to:
A battery stewardship organization must reimburse local governments for demonstrable costs incurred as a result of a local government facility or solid waste handling facility serving as a collection site for the program.
Collection and Management. Battery stewardship organizations implementing a battery stewardship plan must provide for the collection of all covered batteries, including all chemistries and brands of covered batteries, on a free, continuous, convenient, visible, and accessible basis to any person, business, government agency, or nonprofit organization.
For each collection site used by the program, each battery stewardship organization must provide suitable collection containers for covered batteries segregated from other solid waste. Each collection site must adhere to the operations manual and other safety information provided by the battery stewardship organization.
Medium format batteries may only be collected at household hazardous waste collection sites or other sites staffed by persons who are certified to handle and ship hazardous materials.
Damaged and defective batteries are intended to be collected at sites staffed by persons trained to handle and ship those batteries. Each battery stewardship organization must provide for collection of damaged and defective batteries in each county of the state, either through collection sites or collection events.
For portable batteries, each battery stewardship organization must provide statewide collection opportunities that include, but are not limited to:
For medium format batteries, collection opportunities must include, but are not limited to:
Collection locations must also be convenient to overburdened communities, and collection service or events must be provided to island and geographically isolated communities.
Stewardship programs must use as a collection site for covered batteries any retailer, solid waste management facility, or other entity that meets the criteria for collection sites in the stewardship plan, upon the submission of a request by the entity to serve as a collection site.
Stewardship programs must use as a site for a collection event for covered batteries any retailer, solid waste management facility, or other entity that meets the criteria for collection events in the approved plan, upon the submission of a request by the entity to the battery stewardship organization to serve as a site for a collection event. A signed agreement between a battery stewardship organization and the entity requesting to hold a collection event must be established at least 60 days prior to any collection of covered batteries under a stewardship program. All costs associated with collection events initiated by an entity other than a battery stewardship organization are the sole responsibility of the entity unless otherwise agreed upon by a battery stewardship organization.
A local government facility may collect batteries at its own expense through a collection site or temporary collection event that is not a collection site or event under the program implemented by a battery stewardship organization. The local government facility must collect, sort, and package collected materials in a manner that meets the standards established in a battery stewardship organization plan approved by Ecology. A battery stewardship organization may count materials collected by a local government facility towards the achievement of performance requirements under the program.
Education and Outreach. Each battery stewardship organization must carry out promotional activities supporting plan implementation, including:
Each battery stewardship organization must provide educational materials to the operator of each collection site for the management of recalled batteries, which are not intended to be part of collection under the program, to help facilitate transportation and processing of recalled batteries.
Reporting. By June 1, 2028, and each June 1st thereafter, each battery stewardship organization must submit an annual report including:
Proper Disposal Requirement. Beginning July 1, 2027, for portable batteries and July 1, 2029, for medium format batteries, or the first date on which an approved stewardship plan is implemented, all persons must dispose of unwanted covered batteries through one of the following disposal options:
Program Administration. Ecology must implement, administer, and enforce the program. Ecology must by rule establish fees, to be paid annually by a battery stewardship organization, adequate to cover Ecology's administrative costs. Ecology's responsibilities include reviewing and approving stewardship plans and reports, and maintaining a website that lists participating producers and their brands.
Beginning January 1, 2032, and every five years thereafter, Ecology may, after consultation with battery stewardship organizations, increase the program's minimum recycling efficiency rates based on the most economically and technically feasible processes and methodology available.
Penalties and Civil Actions. Ecology may impose a civil penalty up to $1,000 per violation per day on persons that violate provisions of the program, increasing to $10,000 per violation per day for repeated violations. Prior to imposing penalties for the first violation, Ecology must provide a written warning.
A person who incurs a penalty may appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board. Penalties must be deposited in the Responsible Battery Management Account.
A battery stewardship organization is authorized to bring a civil action to recover costs, damages, or fees from a producer who sells covered batteries in violation of program requirements, or against another battery stewardship organization that underperforms on its battery collection obligations under the program.
No penalty may be assessed on an individual or resident for the improper disposal of covered batteries in a noncommercial or residential setting.
Penalties must be deposited in the Model Toxics Control Operating Account.
Responsible Battery Management Account. The Responsible Battery Management Account is created for Ecology to administer, implement, and enforce the program. Battery stewardship organization fees must be deposited in the account for these purposes.
Assessment of Large Format Batteries and Other Batteries. By July 1, 2027, Ecology must complete an assessment of the opportunities and challenges associated with the end-of-life management of batteries that are not covered batteries, including large format batteries, lead acid batteries weighing more than 11 pounds, batteries contained in medical devices that are not designed and marketed to consumers for personal use, and embedded batteries.
"Large format battery" means a rechargeable battery that weighs more than 25 pounds or has a rating of more than 2000 watt-hours, or a primary battery that weighs more than 25 pounds.
Recommendations for Electric Vehicle Batteries. By November 30, 2023, Ecology must report to the Legislature on preliminary policy recommendations for the collection and management of electric vehicle batteries. By April 30, 2024, Ecology must report to the Legislature on final policy recommendations for the collection and management of electric vehicle batteries.
Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.July 23, 2023