MONTPELIER — The Agency of Natural Resources announced today that Walgreen Eastern Co., Inc., the owner of three Vermont Walgreens stores, was fined $20,000 for producing and selling batteries in Vermont without an Agency-approved battery stewardship plan.
Under state law, manufacturers of “primary” batteries are required to identify how they will contribute to the free collection and recycling of batteries sold in Vermont. Primary batteries are defined as non-rechargeable alkaline, carbon-zinc, and lithium metal batteries. The provisions must be outlined in a stewardship plan approved by the Agency of Natural Resources in order for the manufacturer to legally sell batteries in the state.
Over 10 million primary batteries are sold to Vermonters each year. The precious metals and other materials used to produce batteries are valuable and recyclable, and can be kept out of landfills with proper stewardship.
In the summer of 2016, Agency personnel observed Walgreens selling Walgreens Alkaline Supercell (Walgreens brand) primary batteries at the company’s Burlington and Rutland stores. Walgreens had not registered under an Agency-approved primary battery stewardship plan.
A Notice of Alleged Violation was issued directing the company to stop offering their Walgreen brand primary batteries for sale without a stewardship plan. Despite several violation notices and stop sale notices to the Walgreens stores, compliance was not voluntarily achieved. The Agency then issued an Administrative Order seeking to suspend the sale of Walgreens Brand primary batteries and to assess a penalty.
“Strong product stewardship policies push manufacturers to take responsibility for the costs and infrastructure of recycling their product,” states Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Emily Boedecker. “Too often these costs fall on the public, in the form of costly landfills, municipal waste collection services, and even polluted water. Vermont is holding Walgreens accountable for joining other battery manufacturers in sharing environmental responsibility for their product.”
Following issuance of the Administrative Order, Walgreens Eastern Co., Inc. agreed to settle this matter with an Assurance of Discontinuance that was incorporated into a Final Order issued by the Vermont Superior Court, Environmental Division on March 6, 2017. The Order requires Walgreens to pay a $20,000 penalty and to discontinue the sale of Walgreens Brand primary batteries in Vermont unless a battery stewardship plan is submitted to and approved by the State.
To learn more about how to recycle primary batteries in Vermont, visit: http://dec.vermont.gov/waste-management/solid/product-stewardship/primary-batteries