Discarding rechargeable batteries illegal in NYC

New York residents will now have to be extra careful when they throw their batteries away. Thanks to a new state law those who get caught discarding rechargeable batteries could be fined $50 or more.

The law was approved on December 10, 2010 and officially went into effect yesterday. According to The Post-Standard, the legislation makes it a crime to “knowingly dispose of rechargeable batteries at any time in the state.”


Violators of the law are required to pay a civil penalty of $50 for the first offense, then $100 for a second violation if it’s committed within 12 months of the first, and $200 for the third and successive violations.


The legislation also includes a provision that stipulates battery manufacturers are responsible for collecting and recycling old rechargeables – free of charge. Retailers who sell the batteries already began accepting them for recycling in June.


To make things easier for consumers, a localized county website provides New Yorkers with a list of 51 businesses that accept the batteries.  


Dry cell batteries that can be recharged like nickel-cadmium, sealed lead, lithium ion, nickel metal hydride must be recycled, the law says. These types of batteries are generally used to give electric power to power tools, laptop computers and telephones.


The Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency made sure to clarify that while these batteries might look like regular alkaline batteries, they are different because they have the word “rechargeable” on them.


Officials from the NY Department of Environmental Conservation said that the batteries are toxic and they will harm the environment if they are not dealt with in the government approved manner.


The mandate says nothing about batteries or battery packs that weigh 24 pounds or more.


It also does not cover batteries used as the main source of power for cars, boats, trucks, tractors, golf carts, wheelchairs or other vehicles; batteries used to store electricity from solar or wind-driven generators; or batteries that are used for backup power, which is an essential part of an electronic device.


There are no details on how law enforcement will prove that a person knowingly disposed of a rechargeable battery, and it is not known if NYC legislators will enact policies geared towards monitoring trash content.