On Monday, Dec. 5 it became illegal in New York state to throw rechargeable batteries in the garbage.
Recycling is now the mandate, as residents are required to drop off their used rechargeable batteries at retailers who sell them. Retailers had been required to accept the batteries beginning June 8, and they must post signs informing consumers about these requirements.
Manufacturers, retailers and consumers are all affected by the new law, which was signed by former Gov. David Paterson on Dec. 10, 2010. The law took effect Dec. 5.
People who are caught putting used rechargeable batteries in the garbage will be fined $50 for the first offense; $100 for the second; and $200 for the third. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is responsible for enforcement.
“When we learn that people are not complying with the law, we will fine them,” said DEC Public Information Officer Lisa King, based in Albany.
While the DEC will not be roaming the curbsides looking for batteries in garbage cans, they may take action based on complaints from people such as landlords and garbage companies, King said.
The new law covers the following types of rechargeable batteries: nickel-cadmium; sealed lead; lithium ion; nickel metal hydride; any other such dry cell battery capable of being recharged; and battery packs containing any of the above-mentioned batteries.
The law does not cover: any of the above-mentioned batteries/packs weighing 25 pounds or more; batteries used as the principal power source for a vehicle, such as an automobile, boat, truck, tractor, golf cart or wheelchair; batteries for storage of electricity generated by an alternative power source, such as solar or wind-driven generators; batteries for backup that is an integral component of an electronic device; or any non-rechargeable batteries such as common alkaline batteries.
Manufacturers are required to collect the batteries and recycle them, and the goal is to keep toxic chemicals out of landfills.