Kavanagh and Krueger Announce Environmental Victory for New York State

New law requires manufacturers and retailers to take back and recycle used rechargeable batteries
December 15, 2010

Albany – Today, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Liz Krueger announced that Governor Paterson signed into law their legislation to require battery manufacturers to work with retailers to set up free, easily accessible recycling programs for batteries sold or disposed in New York State. The new law would reduce toxins in the waste stream, decrease air contamination, and protect human health and the environment.

Rechargeable batteries found in many consumer goods, such as cell phones, digital cameras, laptop computers, and MP3 players, contain harmful toxic heavy metals, including lead and cadmium. Currently, 3.8 million pounds of rechargeable batteries reach the end of their usable life each year in New York.

“By preventing consumers from throwing these items in the trash and ensuring that retailers and manufacturers take responsibility for disposing of them properly, we’ll keep dangerous substances out of our air and water,” said Kavanagh. “Recycling and reuse are the path to a sustainable economy and a healthy environment, and we’re committed to making sure that New York leads the way. I thank Governor David Paterson, Senator Liz Krueger, and Assembly Environmental Committee Chair Bob Sweeney for their critical support in getting this law enacted.”

State Senator Liz Krueger said, “With the Governor’s signature, New York State is making the statement that through extended producer responsibility, manufacturers’ accountability does not end once their products are sold. The final approval of this legislation removes the full burden of accountability from the consumer and shifts responsibility to the experts so that these products will be properly disposed of and recycled. I applaud Governor Paterson for taking this important step in helping protect the environment.”

“Senator Krueger and Assemblyman Kavanagh are tireless advocates for common sense solutions to persistent pollution problems. We congratulate them on finding an economic way of keeping rechargeable batteries out of New York's land fills and incinerators,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Program Manager with the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “This mandatory take back program will not only result in a cleaner New York - it will also incentivize the use of less toxic materials in the next generation of rechargeable batteries.”

“Requiring manufacturers to recycle their rechargeable batteries keeps dangerous toxins out of our air, land and water,” said Saima Anjam, program associate for Environmental Advocates of New York. “We commend the State for taking this important step to ensure that wildlife and the health of all New Yorkers will be protected.”

The law also requires that manufacturers provide annual reports accounting for the batteries recycled and that retailers post a sign advertising the free recycling of rechargeable batteries. A similar law took effect in the New York City in 2006; this measure extends this initiative to all of the State.

The Sierra Club, Environmental Advocates of New York, Clean New York, and the Product Stewardship Council also supported the legislation.