OLYMPIA — The Washington State Legislature is looking at a measure that legislators hope will increase battery recycling in the state.
"We know that the use of batteries will continue to increase and it's urgent we take action to ensure these products containing hazardous materials don't continue to pile up in our landfills or other places they can cause health and safety concerns," Sen. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, sponsor of Senate Bill 5144, said in a press release.
The bill would require battery producers to fund and participate in a statewide stewardship program to boost recycling rates. The stewardship program would be similar to other statewide programs launched in recent years to collect and recycle paint, electronic products, photovoltaic solar panels and light bulbs containing mercury.
Through the program, cities and counties would get relief from some of the costs of battery collection and reduce the danger of fires caused by rechargeable batteries in garbage trucks and waste transfer stations.
Currently, the state administers a voluntary rechargeable battery recycling program to help prevent people from putting batteries in the trash, but the drop-off sites are limited to select transfer stations and a handful of retailers like Staples and Home Depot.
Another element of the legislation would require battery producers to conduct educational outreach, so Washington consumers are informed about battery recycling options and drop-off sites to be distributed regionally throughout the state, improving access for rural communities, the release stated.
"Used batteries often contain rare metals and chemicals that can be reused in new products while reducing extractive mining," Stanford said. "And by requiring producers to be responsible, we will encourage them to design longer-lasting batteries and move us one step closer to a circular economy."
The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives for consideration.