Section: Findings, declarations
2. The Legislature finds and declares that the presence of toxic metals in certain discarded dry cell batteries is a matter of great concern in light of their likely presence in emissions or residual ash when used batteries are incinerated at a resource recovery facility; that cadmium, lead and mercury, on the basis of available scientific and medical evidence, are of particular concern; that it is desirable as a first step in reducing the toxicity of waste materials in the solid waste streams directed to resource recovery facilities to eliminate the various sources of these toxic metals; and that the removal of used dry cell batteries containing high levels of cadmium, lead or mercury from the solid waste stream can have a significant beneficial impact on the quality of the emissions and residual ash resulting from the incineration of solid waste at resource recovery facilities, and on groundwater quality in those regions of the State where solid waste is disposed at sanitary landfill facilities.
The Legislature further finds and declares that a Statewide toxic waste source reduction strategy must begin with fundamental changes in manufacturing practices and consumer disposal habits; that the manufacturers of products containing high levels of cadmium, lead and mercury that are discarded after serving their intended use must assume financial responsibility for their environmentally sound disposal; and that in particular, the dry cell battery industry must begin to bear a more equitable share of the environmental and social costs associated with manufacturing batteries which place a burden on the State's severely limited disposal options.
The Legislature further finds and declares that mercuric oxide batteries, nickel-cadmium and sealed lead rechargeable batteries are especially problematical and require separate management; that the most effective and appropriate method to promote toxic metal source reduction is to require manufacturers of all dry cell batteries to reduce the mercury concentration in their products to environmentally acceptable levels and to require manufacturers to accept the financial responsibility for the environmentally sound collection, transportation, recycling or proper disposal of used dry cell batteries; and that environmentally sound methods of managing used dry cell batteries include county recycling or household hazardous waste collection programs.
The Legislature therefore determines that it is in the public interest to remove all used mercuric oxide batteries, and all used nickel-cadmium or sealed lead rechargeable batteries from the solid waste stream, and to require the manufacturers of these dry cell batteries to assume the costs of, and accept the responsibility for, their environmentally sound collection, transportation, recycling or proper disposal; that all battery manufacturers shall be required to reduce the mercury concentration in their products to environmentally acceptable levels; that the manufacturers of consumer appliances containing nickel-cadmium or sealed lead rechargeable batteries shall be required to redesign their products so that these batteries are readily removable from the product; that retailers may be required to accept used rechargeable batteries from consumers if a manufacturer's battery management plan includes retail collection as an appropriate method to facilitate the environmentally sound recycling or proper disposal of these types of used dry cell batteries; by authorizing counties to include the collection of used dry cell batteries within district recycling plans; and by requiring that counties include the collection of used dry cell batteries within existing district household hazardous waste collection programs.
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