Stop Batteries from Raising Waste Liability

Larry Stewart | September 28, 2010

If you're handling them as universal waste, batteries don't count to your shop's waste-generation rate and there are fewer requirements for handling them,” says Ed Buckner, an environmental engineer specializing in RCRA enforcement for EPA's Region 7. “You just contain and label them properly, and make sure they're handled by a registered transporter and properly recycled.”

Lead-acid batteries make up one of four special waste categories — the others are pesticides, mercury-containing equipment and lamps — that EPA calls universal waste. Handling requirements acknowledge widespread recycling of these special wastes, encouraging generators to recycle them through the retail outlets and other vendors who are set up to collect and reclaim their residual value.

“Remember you have to handle lamps — like fluorescent tubes or sodium vapor lamps — as universal waste, too, or they will be counted toward your generation rate,” Buckner warns. Handling standards vary somewhat by lamp type, so check with your local environmental agencies. Typically, waste-management contractors such as Safety-Kleen will haul away and recycle used lamps.