The Corporation for Battery Responsibility (CBR) is an alliance formed by Duracell, Energizer, and Panasonic in 2011 to lead national efforts to promote increased battery responsibility.
CBR believes that, in order for battery companies to practice good product stewardship, they must lead efforts to develop responsible battery recycling programs. We believe we can expand battery recycling in an efficient and cost-effective way by bringing battery producers, consumers, recyclers, environmental groups, and government agencies together in support of model legislation.
For battery recycling to succeed, we need a set of shared standards and responsibilities across states. CBR supports legislation to ensure that all companies responsible for placing batteries into the U.S. marketplace are accountable for helping recycle them. That’s why in May 2014, CBR released a model all-battery recycling bill in partnership with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), The Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA), and Call2Recycle, Inc.
The model bill presents a path forward for recycling both single-use and rechargeable batteries. It ensures that all companies involved in the sale of batteries in the U.S. market accept their fair share of responsibility. Making sure all battery producers play a responsible role in recycling also guarantees a vibrant and competitive market.
Recycling both single-use and rechargeable batteries makes the most sense for consumers, who increasingly want options to reduce their environmental footprint.
What are the six core principles for battery recycling that must be included in any battery recycling bill to obtain CBR support?
Positive impact on the environment
Even today, the battery recycling process can take a toll on the environment that outweighs the benefits if not carried out thoughtfully. CBR supports programs that have a net positive effect on the environment through the reduction of solid waste and recovery of valuable metals and other materials.
Industry led and managed
As the most involved stakeholder, battery industry partners must lead the design and implementation of the nationwide approach to battery recycling.
Shared responsibility and financial sustainability
A battery recycling program will succeed only if everyone plays a responsible role. Producers are a key part of the equation, but active—though not necessarily financial—participation from consumers, retailers, recyclers, and governments is vital in order to ensure the program is financially sustainable and not an undue burden on any one party.
A level playing field
All companies, not just CBR members, that sell batteries in the U.S. marketplace must contribute to the cost of recycling batteries. Those who make and sell consumer products that contain batteries should make informed decisions based on the effects of their battery choices. CBR believes that battery manufacturers — regardless of whether their facilities are domestic or foreign—should support the costs of recycling. If they do not, common sense and basic fairness requires that the product producer or retailer is obligated to support that effort.
CBR’s vision is for a comprehensive battery recycling bill that encompasses both single-use and rechargeable batteries. Different standards for different states add unnecessary complexity, confusion, and cost. All state battery recycling bills should reflect the core tenets of the CBR model bill.
Safe and responsible
CBR is committed to developing recycling programs that protect the safety and wellbeing of workers tasked with the collection and recycling of spent consumer batteries.
Collaboration has been a hallmark of CBR’s approach from the beginning. Before CBR was founded in 2011, the battery industry held a summit of 75 stakeholders including nonprofits, retailers, municipalities, and others impacted by battery use and recycling. Another summit was held in 2014 drawing the same diversity of stakeholders. We have consistently provided updates to all parties, conducted outreach efforts, and incorporated feedback from a wide range of stakeholders in states like Vermont, Connecticut, California, Washington State, and Minnesota. All of this has informed our current model legislation.
Vermont became the first state in the country to pass single-use battery recycling legislation when H695 passed in the House of Representatives and was signed into law by Gov. Peter Shumlin under Act 139. It is the first extended producer responsibility (EPR) law in the country that covers primary batteries of multiple chemistries (e.g. alkaline, zinc carbon, lithium primary silver oxide, and zinc-air). California is the only other state that regulates alkaline battery disposal, prohibiting businesses and consumers from disposing of these batteries into their normal waste stream. Unfortunately, both laws have flaws. That is why CBR engaged in Connecticut and other states to pave the way for future legislation that reflects core principles identified as crucial for battery recycling legislation to succeed.
The legislation recently passed in Vermont is an important step forward and proves there is sufficient momentum to transition battery recycling from idea into policy. However, the legislation should not be implemented nationwide because it doesn’t guarantee participation by all battery manufacturers.
While the language of the bill establishes that most products that incorporate or are sold with batteries are covered by the law, the state does not interpret the legislation in the same way. The state’s interpretation allows a large number of batteries to end up in the waste stream without holding those responsible financially accountable.
This is an important issue: recent battery recycling audits in Vermont found that a large percentage of batteries entered the state through consumer products that contain batteries. This finding is consistent with other audits CBR has conducted that found up to one third of batteries came from producers not required to take responsibility. CBR reserves the right to challenge Vermont’s interpretation of the bill that has led to a failure in to holding producers of primary batteries equally accountable. CBR believes the current interpretation imposes unfair costs on a few responsible battery businesses.
For major battery producers to support legislation, all those involved in the sale of batteries in the U.S. market must accept their fair share of responsibility. CBR’s model legislation addresses this concern.
When it comes to recycling batteries, we all have a role to play. A battery recycling program will succeed only if everyone does their part. Producers are a key part of the equation, but active participation from all involved parties is vital. CBR is committed to working alongside consumers, retailers, recyclers, governments, and environmental nonprofits.
Battery recycling reduces our consumption of resources such as steel, manganese, and zinc, all of which can be recycled. Even today, the battery recycling process can take a toll on the environment that outweighs the benefits if not carried out thoughtfully. Nonetheless, CBR is committed to developing the framework so we are ready to maximize the environmental benefits as battery recycling technology and infrastructure improve.
What is the difference between the battery responsibility work Duracell, Energizer, and Panasonic are doing in Europe and the U.S.?
CBR members promote battery recycling in Europe because they have effective laws in place that assure a level playing field for all battery producers. CBR member companies would support battery collection in the U.S. in states that incorporated CBR’s six core principles into their legislation. CBR is focused on developing battery recycling programs that will incorporate lessons learned from European legislation while at the same time adapting to the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the U.S.
Coin and button batteries are crucial in powering today’s technology. Using decades of data on the ingestion of batteries, the global battery industry has voluntarily adopted special protocols to support their safe use, particularly around children.
Click here to find the battery industry’s position paper on coin and button battery safety.
In the case of an emergency, call the national battery ingestion hotline for help at (202) 625-3333.