New California Bills Revises Battery and Electronic Waste Programs

In late August 2022, the California Legislature passed AB 2440 and SB 1215, revising the state’s existing battery Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs, and expanding the state’s e-waste program. AB 2440, the Responsible Battery Act of 2022, repeals the existing Cell Phone Recycling Act of 2004 and the Rechargeable Battery Act of 2006, creating a single EPR program for batteries in the state. SB 1215 expands the Electronic Waste Recycling Act (EWRA) ​​of 2003 to include in-battery products and expands the definition of EWRA manufacturers.

Unlike most national battery EPR laws, these laws apply to all battery chemistries, including widely used lithium-ion batteries.

Governor Newsom has until September 30, 2022 to sign or veto these bills. If Governor Newsom does not sign or veto the bills, they become law on October 1.

Key points to remember:

  • AB 2440

    • What is happening? A new EPR program for batteries will require battery producers to create or fund stewardship programs for the collection and recycling of most batteries sold in California, beginning April 1, 2027 at the latest.

    • Who is impacted? “Producers” of single-use and rechargeable batteries sold or offered for sale in California. This does not include batteries over a certain weight or batteries contained in medical devices, cars or bicycles. It applies only to producers of batteries, not to manufacturers of devices containing integrated batteries (which are covered by SB1215), except to the extent that such manufacturers are also “producers” of batteries.

    • What should I do? Affected battery producers must assess the new collection and recycling requirements imposed by the new bill. Manufacturers selling products with loose or easy-to-remove batteries need to start reviewing their supply chain and ensuring their battery suppliers are ready to comply with the new requirements.

  • SB 1215

    • What is happening? The recently passed bill expands the EWRA to cover products with built-in batteries, requiring consumers to pay a point-of-sale fee for any new or refurbished product with a built-in battery. The bill also expands reporting requirements for manufacturers of all covered electronic devices. The point-of-sale fee will come into effect on January 1, 2026, while the new reporting requirements will come into effect on July 1, 2027.

    • Who is impacted? Manufacturers and retailers of built-in battery devices or video display devices.

    • What should I do? Manufacturers of covered electronic devices should review CalRecycle’s new reporting requirements and review new requirements for notifying retailers of the contents of their products. Retailers of covered electronics should ensure they comply with any new collection requirements and familiarize themselves with the new notice and sale requirements.

AB 2440

California was the first state in the nation to introduce EPR programs for batteries in the mid-2000s. These programs, administered under the Cell Phone Recycling Act of 2004 and the Battery Act of 2006 rechargeable, covered most rechargeable batteries sold in the state. Since then, battery usage in the state has increased dramatically, leading to growing concerns about the improper disposal of batteries of all types in state waste systems. The Responsible Battery Act of 2022 (RBA) hopes to address these issues by creating a new EPR program for nearly all batteries in the state, whether single-use or rechargeable. This new program will require all battery producers to join an approved stewardship organization or create their own stewardship program that will collect and recycle covered batteries in the state.

Products covered

The new RBA requires “producers” of all “covered batteries” sold or offered for sale in the state to participate in a CalRecycle-approved stewardship plan by April 1, 2027.

“Covered batteries” under the law include:

  • any loose battery sold separately from a product;

  • batteries designed to be easily removed from a product with only common household tools; and

  • batteries packed with, but not installed in, products which the batteries are intended to power when the product is sold by the producer of the batteries.

Are excluded from the definition of “covered batteries”:

  • single-use batteries weighing more than two kilograms;

  • rechargeable batteries weighing more than five kilograms with a watt hour rating of more than 300 watt hours;

  • lead batteries;

  • batteries contained in medical devices;

  • batteries recalled;

  • fuel cell power generation installations; and

  • batteries contained in a motor vehicle, including cars and bicycles, but excluding motorized scooters, skateboards and hoverboards.

The law defines “Producers” as anyone who “manufactures a Covered Battery or who owns or is the licensee of the brand or trademark under which such Covered Battery is sold, offered for sale, or distributed for sale in or in the ‘State”. If none of these persons fit this description, the producer will be deemed the exclusive trademark or trademark owner of this Covered Battery.

Reporting requirements

The Act requires all covered battery producers to provide CalRecycle, no later than 180 days after the bill is signed, with a list of all covered batteries and brands of covered batteries that the producer sells, distributes for sale, imports for sale or offers for sale in or in California. Producers must provide any updates to this information annually as part of their participation in an approved stewardship program.

Requirements for retailers

The law adds new requirements for retailers of any covered battery. Two years after the effective date of the bill, and each year thereafter, CalRecycle will publish a list of all compliant producers. Retailers are required to monitor this list and are prohibited from selling a covered battery unless the producer is listed as compliant. This prohibition does not cover the sale of existing inventory in stock before the listing is posted.

The bill also requires any covered battery retailer with five or more locations in the state to have all locations serve as permanent collection sites for covered batteries under an approved stewardship program.

SB 1215

SB 1215 amends the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 (EWRA) ​​to include nearly all in-battery products. The bill introduces a point-of-sale consumer charge for all built-in battery products sold in the state, similar to the existing charge for video display devices. This bill, in conjunction with AB 2440, ensures that nearly all batteries sold in the state will fall under an e-waste recycling program. SB 1215 also expands EWRA’s definition of “manufacturer”, expanding reporting and record keeping requirements for manufacturers of covered electronic devices.

The bill requires CalRecycle to establish the amount of consumer fees for covered products with built-in batteries by October 1, 2025, and requires retailers to begin collecting fees on January 1, 2026. The fees collected will pay the program for state e-waste recycling. and law administrative costs for CalRecycle and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Products covered

The new bill expands the definition of “covered electronic devices” under EWRA to: any video display device with a screen greater than four inches diagonally or any covered product with a built-in battery. The covered built-in battery product is further defined as “a product containing a battery whose battery is not designed to be easily removed from the product by the user of the product with no more than commonly used household tools”. Excluded from the definition of covered electronic devices are: medical devices, an energy storage system, an electronic nicotine delivery system or video screens contained in a motor vehicle or in a washer, dryer, refrigerator , a freezer, a microwave oven, a conventional oven or stove, dishwasher, individual air conditioner, dehumidifier or air purifier.

Requirements for manufacturers

SB 1215 requires manufacturers of covered electronic devices to annually provide a notice to all retailers selling their products, identifying the device by make and model number and notifying the retailer that the product is subject to the new recycling fee . Copies of such notices must also be provided to CalRecycle. If a Retailer sells Refurbished Covered Electronic Devices, the Manufacturer is only required to provide the Annual Notice if it supplies the Refurbished Device to the Retailer.

Beginning July 1, 2027, manufacturers will also be required to submit annual reports to CalRecycle showing: the estimated number of covered devices sold in the state during the previous year; the chemistry of the batteries contained in these devices; a baseline estimate of the amount of recycled materials contained in appliances, and any increase in that amount from the previous reporting year; and a list of all retailers to whom the producer has provided the required notices described above. The records required to make these reports must be kept by the manufacturers for at least three years. Manufacturers will also be required, no later than July 1, 2027, to make information available to consumers on where and how to return and recycle their covered electronic devices.

Requirements for retailers

SB 1215 requires retailers of all covered electronics in California to collect electronic waste recycling fees, as determined by CalRecycle, at the point of sale. Retailers may retain 3% of the levy collected as reimbursement for the fee collection costs. Retailers may pay the charges on behalf of the customer and must explicitly state whether they have done so on any receipt provided.

Bernard P. Love