Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act
The Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act (Public Law 104-142) became law on May 13, 1996. The purpose of the law is to phase out the use of mercury in batteries and to 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.
The law is comprised of the following two titles:
Title I - Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act
This title includes provisions that:
- Prohibit the sale for use in the United States of a regulated battery or a rechargeable consumer product that is ready for retail sale if this battery was manufactured on or within one year of the enactment of this law (i.e., before May 13, 1997), unless specific labeling requirements are met and the battery is (1) easily removable from the product or is (2) sold separately.
- Authorize the EPA Administrator, after determining that other rechargeable batteries having electrode chemistries different from regulated batteries are toxic and may cause substantial harm to human health and the environment, to promulgate requirements for (1) labeling and (2) easy removability of regulated batteries from rechargeable consumer products designed to contain such batteries.
- Provide exemptions from the requirements of this Act in certain circumstances.
An article in the Hazardous Technical Information Services (HTIS) Bulletin, (March/April 1997), discusses another provision of this title:
. . . The Rechargeable Battery Act, as it is being called, imposes the Universal Waste Rule requirements on the collection, storage, or transportation of used rechargeable batteries whether or not your State has set its own regulations governing the disposition of rechargeable batteries. How and why did this happen? Recall that the Universal Waste Rule removed the 40 CFR 261.6 exemption (from hazardous waste regulation) for batteries being regenerated. The Rule went on to subject facilities handling these batteries to Part 273 of the Universal Waste Rule (small and large quantity universal waste higher standards). However many states have been slow (or have no intention) to adopt the Universal Waste Rule or have adopted their own rules regarding rechargeable battery recycling. . . . As stated in the Act, ". . . the collection, storage, or transportation of used rechargeable batteries. . . shall, notwithstanding, any law of a State or political subdivision thereof governing such collection, storage, or transportation, be regulated under applicable provisions of the regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency at 60 Fed. Reg. 25492 [May 11, 1995]. . . ."
In its Semiannual Agenda (November 29, 1996; 61 FR 63182), EPA announced plans to issue a direct final rule to codify into the Code of Federal Regulations certain provisions of Title I of the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act that impact the May 11, 1995, Universal Waste Rule (60 FR 25492). To date, this direct final rule has not been published.
Title II - Mercury-Containing Battery Management Act
The purpose of this title is to phase out the use of batteries containing mercury. It prohibits the sale, offer for sale, or offer for promotional purpose of any of the following: (1) alkaline-manganese batteries containing mercury, (2) zinc-carbon batteries containing mercury, (3) button cell mercuric-oxide batteries, or (4) other mercuric-oxide batteries unless specified conditions are met. This title also allows the EPA Administrator to grant an exemption to a person who may petition to allow a new use for a battery technology or the use of such a battery in a new product if reasonable safeguards exist to ensure that the resulting battery or product will not be disposed of in an incinerator, composting facility, or landfill (other than a facility regulated under subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal Act).