Is mandatory battery recycling coming?

Dec 30, 2021
Written by wpengine

Person throwing used batteries into recycle bin, closeup photo

Representative Kristen Harris-Talley (D-37-Seattle) has drafted a bill to require battery recycling and proper disposal. The bill has not yet been pre-filed, so it has not been assigned a number.

The legislation seeks to recycle recyclable batteries and properly dispose of batteries that can’t be recycled. If enacted, the bill would limit batteries and battery-containing products that retailers could offer for sale after July 1, 2026, to only items covered in a stewardship program.

The legislation is modeled after the electronic waste law passed several years ago.

Washington Retail and its members support a clean environment and proper disposal and recycling of products at their end of life.

However, several concerns arise with this bill.

First, we would suggest the legislation pertain to batteries and not “all” products containing batteries, which could run in the thousands if not millions of items—challenging in both implementation and compliance.

The bill would require all batteries sold in Washington to be specially marked, which would be exceptionally difficult for those manufacturers selling their products globally. Washington state is a mere 2% of the U.S. market.

The measure could also likely put the liability on retailers for non-compliance by upstream producers.

Washington Retail looks forward to working with the prime sponsor and other stakeholders on crafting a bill that helps address concerns and allows retailers to offer an affordable and wide array of products.