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104th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session 104-530
MERCURY-CONTAINING AND RECHARGEABLE BATTERY MANAGEMENT ACT
April 23, 1996.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Bliley, from the Committee on Commerce, submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 2024]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Commerce, to whom was referred the bill
(H.R. 2024) to phase out the use of mercury in batteries and
provide for the efficient and cost-effective collection and
recycling or proper disposal of used nickel cadmium batteries,
small sealed lead-acid batteries, and certain other batteries,
and for other purposes, having considered the same, report
favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill
as amended do pass.
The Amendment.................................................... 2
Purpose and Summary.............................................. 7
Background and Need for Legislation.............................. 7
Committee Consideration.......................................... 12
Roll Call Votes.................................................. 12
Committee Oversight Findings..................................... 13
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight..................... 13
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................ 13
Committee Cost Estimate.......................................... 13
Congressional Budget Office Estimate............................. 13
Inflationary Impact Statement.................................... 15
Advisory Committee Statement..................................... 15
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion....................... 15
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............ 19
The amendment is as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu
thereof the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable
Battery Management Act''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
The Congress finds that--
(1) it is in the public interest to--
(A) phase out the use of mercury in batteries and
provide for the efficient and cost-effective collection
and recycling or proper disposal of used nickel cadmium
batteries, small sealed lead-acid batteries, and other
regulated batteries; and
(B) educate the public concerning the collection,
recycling, and proper disposal of such batteries;
(2) uniform national labeling requirements for regulated
batteries, rechargeable consumer products, and product
packaging will significantly benefit programs for regulated
battery collection and recycling or proper disposal; and
(3) it is in the public interest to encourage persons who use
rechargeable batteries to participate in collection for
recycling of used nickel-cadmium, small sealed lead-acid, and
other regulated batteries.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
For purposes of this Act:
(1) Administrator.--The term ``Administrator'' means the
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
(2) Button cell.--The term ``button cell'' means a button- or
(3) Easily removable.--The term ``easily removable'', with
respect to a battery, means detachable or removable at the end
of the life of the battery--
(A) from a consumer product by a consumer with the
use of common household tools; or
(B) by a retailer of replacements for a battery used
as the principal electrical power source for a vehicle.
(4) Mercuric-oxide battery.--The term ``mercuric-oxide
battery'' means a battery that uses a mercuric-oxide electrode.
(5) Rechargeable battery.--The term ``rechargeable
(A) means 1 or more voltaic or galvanic cells,
electrically connected to produce electric energy, that
is designed to be recharged for repeated uses; and
(B) includes any type of enclosed device or sealed
container consisting of 1 or more such cells, including
what is commonly called a battery pack (and in the case
of a battery pack, for the purposes of the requirements
of easy removability and labeling under section 103,
means the battery pack as a whole rather than each
component individually); but
(C) does not include--
(i) a lead-acid battery used to start an
internal combustion engine or as the principal
electrical power source for a vehicle, such as
an automobile, a truck, construction equipment,
a motorcycle, a garden tractor, a golf cart, a
wheelchair, or a boat;
(ii) a lead-acid battery used for load
leveling or for storage of electricity
generated by an alternative energy source, such
as a solar cell or wind-driven generator;
(iii) a battery used as a backup power source
for memory or program instruction storage,
timekeeping, or any similar purpose that
requires uninterrupted electrical power in
order to function if the primary energy supply
fails or fluctuates momentarily; or
(iv) a rechargeable alkaline battery.
(6) Rechargeable consumer product.--The term ``rechargeable
(A) means a product that, when sold at retail,
includes a regulated battery as a primary energy
supply, and that is primarily intended for personal or
household use; but
(B) does not include a product that only uses a
battery solely as a source of backup power for memory
or program instruction storage, timekeeping, or any
similar purpose that requires uninterrupted electrical
power in order to function if the primary energy supply
fails or fluctuates momentarily.
(7) Regulated battery.--The term ``regulated battery'' means
a rechargeable battery that--
(A) contains a cadmium or a lead electrode or any
combination of cadmium and lead electrodes; or
(B) contains other electrode chemistries and is the
subject of a determination by the Administrator under
(8) Remanufactured product.--The term ``remanufactured
product'' means a rechargeable consumer product that has been
altered by the replacement of parts, repackaged, or repaired
after initial sale by the original manufacturer.
SEC. 4. INFORMATION DISSEMINATION.
The Administrator shall, in consultation with representatives of
rechargeable battery manufacturers, rechargeable consumer product
manufacturers, and retailers, establish a program to provide
information to the public concerning the proper handling and disposal
of used regulated batteries and rechargeable consumer products with
SEC. 5. ENFORCEMENT.
(a) Civil Penalty.--When on the basis of any information the
Administrator determines that a person has violated, or is in violation
of, any requirement of this Act (except a requirement of section 104)
(1) in the case of any violation, may issue an order
assessing a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each
violation, or requiring compliance immediately or within a
reasonable specified time period, or both; or
(2) in the case of any violation or failure to comply with an
order issued under this section, may commence a civil action in
the United States district court in the district in which the
violation occurred or in the district in which the violator
resides for appropriate relief, including a temporary or
(b) Contents of Order.--An order under subsection (a)(1) shall state
with reasonable specificity the nature of the violation.
(c) Considerations.--In assessing a civil penalty under subsection
(a)(1), the Administrator shall take into account the seriousness of
the violation and any good faith efforts to comply with applicable
(d) Finality of Order; Request for Hearing.--An order under
subsection (a)(1) shall become final unless, not later than 30 days
after the order is served, a person named in the order requests a
hearing on the record.
(e) Hearing.--On receiving a request under subsection (d), the
Administrator shall promptly conduct a hearing on the record.
(f) Subpoena Power.--In connection with any hearing on the record
under this section, the Administrator may issue subpoenas for the
attendance and testimony of witnesses and for the production of
relevant papers, books, and documents.
(g) Continued Violation After Expiration of Period for Compliance.--
If a violator fails to take corrective action within the time specified
in an order under subsection (a)(1), the Administrator may assess a
civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for the continued noncompliance
with the order.
(h) Savings Provision.--The Administrator may not take any
enforcement action against a person for selling, offering for sale, or
offering for promotional purposes to the ultimate consumer a battery or
product covered by this Act that was--
(1) purchased ready for sale to the ultimate consumer; and
(2) sold, offered for sale, or offered for promotional
purposes without modification.
The preceding sentence shall not apply to a person who is the importer
of a battery or product covered by this Act and who has knowledge that
the sale, offering for sale, or offering for promotional purposes of
such battery or product is prohibited by this Act.
SEC. 6. INFORMATION GATHERING AND ACCESS.
(a) Records and Reports.--A person who is required to carry out the
objectives of this Act, including--
(1) a regulated battery manufacturer;
(2) a rechargeable consumer product manufacturer;
(3) a mercury-containing battery manufacturer; and
(4) an authorized agent of a person described in paragraph
(1), (2), or (3),
shall establish and maintain such records and report such information
as the Administrator may by regulation reasonably require to carry out
the objectives of this Act.
(b) Access and Copying.--The Administrator or the Administrator's
authorized representative, on presentation of credentials of the
Administrator, may at reasonable times have access to and copy any
records required to be maintained under subsection (a).
(c) Confidentiality.--The Administrator shall maintain the
confidentiality of documents and records that contain proprietary
SEC. 7. STATE AUTHORITY.
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit a State from
enacting and enforcing a standard or requirement that is identical to a
standard or requirement established or promulgated under this Act.
Except as provided in sections 103(e) and 104, nothing in this Act
shall be construed to prohibit a State from enacting and enforcing a
standard or requirement that is more stringent than a standard or
requirement established or promulgated under this Act.
SEC. 8. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to
carry out this Act.
TITLE I--RECHARGEABLE BATTERY RECYCLING ACT
SEC. 101. SHORT TITLE.
This title may be cited as the ``Rechargeable Battery Recycling
SEC. 102. PURPOSE.
The purpose of this title is to facilitate the efficient recycling or
proper disposal of used nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries, used
small sealed lead-acid rechargeable batteries, other regulated
batteries, and such rechargeable batteries in used consumer products,
(1) providing for uniform labeling requirements and
streamlined regulatory requirements for regulated battery
collection programs; and
(2) encouraging voluntary industry programs by eliminating
barriers to funding the collection and recycling or proper
disposal of used rechargeable batteries.
SEC. 103. RECHARGEABLE CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND LABELING.
(1) In general.--No person shall sell for use in the United
States a regulated battery that is ready for retail sale or a
rechargeable consumer product that is ready for retail sale, if
such battery or product was manufactured on or after the date
12 months after the date of enactment of this Act, unless the
labeling requirements of subsection (b) are met and, in the
case of a regulated battery, the regulated battery--
(A) is easily removable from the rechargeable
consumer product; or
(B) is sold separately.
(2) Application.--Paragraph (1) does not apply to any of the
(A) The sale of a remanufactured product unit unless
paragraph (1) applied to the sale of the unit when
(B) The sale of a product unit intended for export
(b) Labeling.--Each regulated battery or rechargeable consumer
product without an easily removable battery manufactured on or after
the date that is 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act,
whether produced domestically or imported shall bear the following
(1) 3 chasing arrows or a comparable recycling symbol.
(2)(A) On each regulated battery which is a nickel-cadmium
battery, the chemical name or the abbreviation ``Ni-Cd'' and
the phrase ``BATTERY MUST BE RECYCLED OR DISPOSED OF
(B) On each regulated battery which is a lead-acid battery,
``Pb'' or the words ``LEAD'', ``RETURN'', and ``RECYCLE'' and
if the regulated battery is sealed, the phrase ``BATTERY MUST
(3) On each rechargeable consumer product containing a
regulated battery that is not easily removable, the phrase
``CONTAINS NICKEL-CADMIUM BATTERY. BATTERY MUST BE RECYCLED OR
DISPOSED OF PROPERLY.'' or ``CONTAINS SEALED LEAD BATTERY.
BATTERY MUST BE RECYCLED.'', as applicable.
(4) On the packaging of each rechargeable consumer product,
and the packaging of each regulated battery sold separately
from such a product, unless the required label is clearly
visible through the packaging, the phrase ``CONTAINS NICKEL-
CADMIUM BATTERY. BATTERY MUST BE RECYCLED OR DISPOSED OF
PROPERLY.'' or ``CONTAINS SEALED LEAD BATTERY. BATTERY MUST BE
RECYCLED.'', as applicable.
(c) Existing or Alternative Labeling.--
(1) Initial period.--For a period of 2 years after the date
of enactment of this Act, regulated batteries, rechargeable
consumer products containing regulated batteries, and
rechargeable consumer product packages that are labeled in
substantial compliance with subsection (b) shall be deemed to
comply with the labeling requirements of subsection (b).
(A) In general.--On application by persons subject to
the labeling requirements of subsection (b) or the
labeling requirements promulgated by the Administrator
under subsection (d), the Administrator shall certify
that a different label meets the requirements of
subsection (b) or (d), respectively, if the different
(i) conveys the same information as the label
required under subsection (b) or (d),
(ii) conforms with a recognized international
standard that is consistent with the overall
purposes of this title.
(B) Constructive certification.--Failure of the
Administrator to object to an application under
subparagraph (A) on the ground that a different label
does not meet either of the conditions described in
subparagraph (A) (i) or (ii) within 120 days after the
date on which the application is made shall constitute
certification for the purposes of this Act.
(d) Rulemaking Authority of the Administrator.--
(1) In general.--If the Administrator determines that other
rechargeable batteries having electrode chemistries different
from regulated batteries are toxic and may cause substantial
harm to human health and the environment if discarded into the
solid waste stream for land disposal or incineration, the
Administrator may, with the advice and counsel of State
regulatory authorities and manufacturers of rechargeable
batteries and rechargeable consumer products, and after public
(A) promulgate labeling requirements for the
batteries with different electrode chemistries,
rechargeable consumer products containing such
batteries that are not easily removable batteries, and
packaging for the batteries and products; and
(B) promulgate requirements for easy removability of
regulated batteries from rechargeable consumer products
designed to contain such batteries.
(2) Substantial similarity.--The regulations promulgated
under paragraph (1) shall be substantially similar to the
requirements set forth in subsections (a) and (b).
(e) Uniformity.--After the effective dates of a requirement set forth
in subsection (a), (b), or (c) or a regulation promulgated by the
Administrator under subsection (d), no Federal agency, State, or
political subdivision of a State may enforce any easy removability or
environmental labeling requirement for a rechargeable battery or
rechargeable consumer product that is not identical to the requirement
(1) In general.--With respect to any rechargeable consumer
product, any person may submit an application to the
Administrator for an exemption from the requirements of
subsection (a) in accordance with the procedures under
paragraph (2). The application shall include the following
(A) A statement of the specific basis for the request
for the exemption.
(B) The name, business address, and telephone number
of the applicant.
(2) Granting of exemption.--Not later than 60 days after
receipt of an application under paragraph (1), the
Administrator shall approve or deny the application. On
approval of the application the Administrator shall grant an
exemption to the applicant. The exemption shall be issued for a
period of time that the Administrator determines to be
appropriate, except that the period shall not exceed 2 years.
The Administrator shall grant an exemption on the basis of
evidence supplied to the Administrator that the manufacturer
has been unable to commence manufacturing the rechargeable
consumer product in compliance with the requirements of this
section and with an equivalent level of product performance
without the product--
(A) posing a threat to human health, safety, or the
(B) violating requirements for approvals from
governmental agencies or widely recognized private
standard-setting organizations (including Underwriters
(3) Renewal of exemption.--A person granted an exemption
under paragraph (2) may apply for a renewal of the exemption in
accordance with the requirements and procedures described in
paragraphs (1) and (2). The Administrator may grant a renewal
of such an exemption for a period of not more than 2 years
after the date of the granting of the renewal.
SEC. 104. REQUIREMENTS.
(a) Batteries Subject to Certain Regulations.--The collection,
storage, or transportation of used rechargeable batteries, batteries
described in section 3(5)(C) or in title II, and used rechargeable
consumer products containing rechargeable batteries that are not easily
removable rechargeable batteries, shall, notwithstanding any law of a
State or political subdivision thereof governing such collection,
storage, or transportation, be regulated under applicable provisions of
the regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency at
60 Fed. Reg. 25492 (May 11, 1995), as effective on May 11, 1995, except
as provided in paragraph (2) of subsection (b) and except that--
(1) the requirements of 40 CFR 260.20, 260.40, and 260.41 and
the equivalent requirements of an approved State program shall
not apply, and
(2) this section shall not apply to any lead acid battery
managed under 40 CFR 266 subpart G or the equivalent
requirements of an approved State program.
(b) Enforcement Under Solid Waste Disposal Act.--(1) Any person who
fails to comply with the requirements imposed by subsection (a) of this
section may be subject to enforcement under applicable provisions of
the Solid Waste Disposal Act.
(2) States may implement and enforce the requirements of subsection
(a) if the Administrator finds that--
(A) the State has adopted requirements that are identical to
those referred to in subsection (a) governing the collection,
storage, or transportation of batteries referred to in
subsection (a); and
(B) the State provides for enforcement of such requirements.
TITLE II--MERCURY-CONTAINING BATTERY MANAGEMENT ACT
SEC. 201. SHORT TITLE.
This title may be cited as the ``Mercury-Containing Battery
SEC. 202. PURPOSE.
The purpose of this title is to phase out the use of batteries
SEC. 203. LIMITATIONS ON THE SALE OF ALKALINE-MANGANESE BATTERIES
No person shall sell, offer for sale, or offer for promotional
purposes any alkaline-manganese battery manufactured on or after
January 1, 1996, with a mercury content that was intentionally
introduced (as distinguished from mercury that may be incidentally
present in other materials), except that the limitation on mercury
content in alkaline-manganese button cells shall be 25 milligrams of
mercury per button cell.
SEC. 204. LIMITATIONS ON THE SALE OF ZINC-CARBON BATTERIES CONTAINING
No person shall sell, offer for sale, or offer for promotional
purposes any zinc-carbon battery manufactured on or after January 1,
1996, that contains mercury that was intentionally introduced as
described in section 203.
SEC. 205. LIMITATIONS ON THE SALE OF BUTTON CELL MERCURIC-OXIDE
No person shall sell, offer for sale, or offer for promotional
purposes any button cell mercuric-oxide battery for use in the United
States on or after January 1, 1996.
SEC. 206. LIMITATIONS ON THE SALE OF OTHER MERCURIC-OXIDE BATTERIES.
(a) Prohibition.--On or after January 1, 1996, no person shall sell,
offer for sale, or offer for promotional purposes a mercuric-oxide
battery for use in the United States unless the battery manufacturer,
or the importer of such a battery--
(1) identifies a collection site in the United States that
has all required Federal, State, and local government
approvals, to which persons may send used mercuric-oxide
batteries for recycling or proper disposal;
(2) informs each of its purchasers of mercuric-oxide
batteries of the collection site identified under paragraph
(3) informs each of its purchasers of mercuric-oxide
batteries of a telephone number that the purchaser may call to
get information about sending mercuric-oxide batteries for
recycling or proper disposal.
(b) Application of Section.--This section does not apply to a sale or
offer of a mercuric-oxide button cell battery.
SEC. 207. NEW PRODUCT OR USE.
On petition of a person that proposes a new use for a battery
technology described in this title or the use of a battery described in
this title in a new product, the Administrator may exempt from this
title the new use of the technology or the use of such a battery in the
new product on the condition, if appropriate, that there exist
reasonable safeguards to ensure that the resulting battery or product
without an easily removable battery will not be disposed of in an
incinerator, composting facility, or landfill (other than a facility
regulated under subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C.
6921 et seq.)).
purpose and summary
H.R. 2024, the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery
Management Act, phases out the use of mercury in batteries and
provides for the efficient and cost-effective collection and
recycling of certain other batteries, including nickel cadmium
batteries and small sealed lead-acid batteries. The legislation
would implement a national, uniform system for the collection
and recycling of such batteries and provide for uniform
labeling of the batteries. The legislation also provides
enforcement mechanisms for violations of these new
background and need for legislation
A. Environmental hazards posed by batteries
Exposure to mercury and cadmium does not pose health risks
through the use of ordinary consumer products, but these
elements can pose significant environmental problems when
released into the environment.
Exposure to mercury at high levels, which may result from
breathing contaminated air or exposure to highly contaminated
air, water, or soil near hazardous waste sites, may damage the
brain, kidneys, and a developing fetus. Inorganic mercury,
which includes metallic mercury and inorganic mercury
compounds, can be released into the air from waste
incineration. Inorganic mercury compounds are created by the
combination of mercury with other elements, such as oxygen,
chlorine, or sulfur. Mercury's effects on the brain may result
in memory problems, vision and hearing difficulties, tremors,
and irritability. Methylmercury exposure is particularly
dangerous for young children because of its interference with
neurological development. The U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) limits mercury in drinking water to no more than 2
parts per billion. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
limits methylmercury in seafood to 1 part per million. The
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) limits
mercury in workplace air to 1 milligram per 10 cubic meters.
Exposure to cadmium, which may occur from inhalation or
ingestion of water, can damage the lungs and cause kidney
disease. Cadmium can be released into the air from waste
incineration and enters the water and soil from waste disposal
and leaks near hazardous waste sites. The body retains cadmium
for a long time, and cadmium can build up in the body as a
result of long periods of low exposure. The Department of
Health and Human Services notes that cadmium may reasonably be
anticipated to be a carcinogen. The EPA limits cadmium in
drinking water to no more than 5 parts per billion. The FDA
limits cadmium in food colors to 15 parts per million parts of
food color. OSHA limits cadmium fumes in workplace air to 100
micrograms per cubic meter, and cadmium dust to 200 micrograms
per cubic meter.
Batteries are a major source of mercury and cadmium
releases into the environment. Although the 2.5 billion dry
cell batteries which the United States uses each year are a
small portion of the overall amount of waste that is landfilled
or incinerated, they represent a much larger portion of the
overall amounts of mercury and cadmium in the U.S. waste
stream. A New York State report on solid waste found that
rechargeable batteries were the source of 68 percent of the
cadmium in the State's solid waste, and mercury batteries
accounted for 85 percent of the mercury in the State's waste
stream. These materials can leach into groundwater after the
batteries become corroded in landfills, and cause toxic air
emissions from incinerators and increase the concentration of
heavy metals in fly ash and bottom ash.
There are two main categories of dry cell batteries:
primary batteries, which are disposable batteries used in
common household items like flashlights and radios, and
secondary batteries or rechargeable batteries, typically used
in items like cellular phones, cordless phones and cordless
power tools. Primary batteries do not typically contain lead or
cadmium electrodes or other significant amounts of toxic
metals, but they may contain very small amounts of metals to
prevent the formation of dangerous gases and to extend the life
of the battery. The main primary battery chemistries are
alkaline-manganese and zinc-carbon. The exception is the
mercuric-oxide cell, used in medical, military, computer, and
other equipment that requires constant voltage to operate.
Mercuric-oxide batteries are being replaced increasingly with
Secondary or rechargeable batteries include heavy metal
nickel-cadmium and sealed lead batteries. Manufacturers most
often market these batteries with products like portable power
tools and razors and include external rechargers. Some 85
percent of the 350 million rechargeable batteries purchased
annually today in the United States are nickel-cadmium
batteries, although new chemistries are expected to become a
larger portion of the total over the next few years as
rechargeable battery use grows.
A broad industry group encompassing nearly all major
battery manufacturing, consuming, and retailing companies is
supporting H.R. 2024. The battery manufacturing and consuming
companies organized the Portable Rechargeable Battery
Association (PRBA) after the State of Minnesota passed the
first State law establishing a rechargeable battery recycling
program in 1991. The association, which now includes over 100
member companies, was formed to promote battery recycling
The PRBA formed the Rechargeable Battery Recycling
Corporation (RBRC) to recycle the rechargeable batteries with
funding from the PRBA companies. The RBRC now operates battery
programs in three States. The PRBA and the RBRC testified that
Federal legislation is necessary to allow them to operate a
uniform battery recycling program nationwide to quickly reduce
cadmium levels in household waste. The PRBA also supports
provisions in the bills to phase out mercury in most batteries.
B. Federal and State battery recycling initiatives and current law
Both regulators and the regulated community agree that
government should take steps to reduce the presence of mercury,
cadmium, and other metals from batteries in the solid waste
stream. Additionally, there appear to be few disagreements that
recycling programs would be an efficient method of reduction.
Because of their heavy metal content, used rechargeable
batteries are considered to be ``hazardous waste'' under the
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and therefore
have been subject to the regulatory requirements applicable to
hazardous waste under subtitle C of that Act. ``Household
waste,'' however, is exempted from the requirements of subtitle
C, so batteries disposed of through ordinary municipal
collection have ended up in landfills or incinerators. Waste
from sources other than households does not fall into this
exemption. If businesses were to undertake collection of
rechargeable batteries, as is envisioned by the battery
industry for its recycling program, the batteries would be
subject to RCRA hazardous waste requirements. Those
requirements include licensing and manifesting requirements for
hazardous waste transporters; permitting requirements for the
storage of hazardous waste; a requirement that hazardous waste
be disposed of in specially permitted landfills; and various
reporting and inspection requirements. The expensive subtitle C
requirements are ill-suited to used rechargeable batteries,
which are typically no more hazardous when transported and
handled after use than when they are transported new. Their
hazardous constituents do not pose risks to human health or the
environment until incinerated or until they become corroded
from exposure to the elements.
Recognizing that certain hazardous wastes do not require
the extensive regulatory control of subtitle C, and in an
effort to facilitate environmentally-sound collection and
recycling or treatment of hazardous waste nickel-cadmium and
other batteries and other widely generated hazardous wastes,
the EPA promulgated the Universal Waste Rule (40 CFR 273).
Promulgated on May 11, 1995, the Universal Waste Rule applies
to batteries which have been characterized as ``hazardous
waste'' under RCRA. The regulatory definition of ``battery''
for such purposes is a broad one which covers rechargeable
batteries and other battery types.
The effect of the Universal Waste Rule is to streamline the
regulations of subtitle C for the purpose of fostering battery
recycling. The rule instead subjects rechargeable battery
handlers and transporters to separate, less stringent
requirements, distinguishing between ``large quantity handlers
of universal waste'' (those which handle more than 5,000
kilograms of universal waste at one time) and ``small quantity
handlers of universal waste'' (those which handle less than
5,000 kilograms at once). For large quantity handlers, the rule
requires that the handler notify the Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency (the Administrator) or
authorized State of its activities and shipments, ensure
appropriate employee training in handling such wastes, and
track and keep records of shipments. Universal waste
transporters and destination facilities are also subject to
management and tracking requirements. The regulations for
destination facilities remain the same as under the full
The proposed legislation goes further than the Universal
Waste Rule. Unlike H.R. 2024, the Universal Waste Rule does not
set forth labeling requirements for rechargeable batteries and
rechargeable consumer products. This means consumers do not
have notice that rechargeable batteries can be recycled.
RCRA provides that States may put in place their own
hazardous waste programs in lieu of RCRA if the program is no
less stringent than the Federal program. States may also adopt
more restrictive requirements if they so choose. Only three
States--Alaska, Hawaii, and Iowa--have not sought authorization
to run a State program in lieu of RCRA. This means that in
those three States, the Federal RCRA program, including
regulations, applies and therefore the Universal Waste Rule
also applies without any further action from the States.
In the other 47 States, most RCRA regulations, including
the Universal Waste Rule, do not automatically apply. Each
State must affirmatively adopt the Federal regulations, and may
do so with changes. The adopted State rule must then be
approved by the EPA. To date, nine States--Alabama, Arkansas,
Colorado, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina,
Tennessee, and Utah--have promulgated regulations implementing
the Universal Waste Rule. Another two States--Georgia, and
Michigan--have passed statutes incorporating the Universal
Waste Rule. Others are considering the rule; some have issued
discretionary guidance stating intentions not to enforce their
existing laws to the detriment of battery recycling programs.
In addition, 13 States--California, Connecticut, Florida,
Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey,
New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont--have enacted their
own legislation, mostly prior to the issuance of the Universal
Waste Rule, requiring that nickel-cadmium and small sealed
lead-acid batteries be labeled as recyclable and be ``easily
removable'' from rechargeable consumer products. All of these
States except California, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon
have also set up battery collection and recycling programs.
There are slight differences among these statutes as to which
words are required on the labels, and how the collection and
recycling programs must be operated.
The battery industry has made a strong case that there are
at least two impediments that prevent establishment of a truly
national recycling program and compel Federal legislation.
First, the Universal Waste Rule is a helpful step toward
establishing a national program. However, until all States
adopt the rule, battery collection, handling, and
transportation may be subject to inconsistent regulations among
the States. Transporters may not be able to travel through
certain States unless they comply with manifesting, reporting
and other requirements, which are some of the requirements the
Universal Waste Rule is designed to streamline. Furthermore,
States are not required to adopt identical versions of the
rule, which potentially could lead to transporters facing
Second, the inconsistencies also arise with respect to
separate State rechargeable battery recycling statutes.
Although the labeling requirements are very similar in
virtually all States with such requirements, the exact words
required in each vary slightly. Battery manufacturers must
therefore produce separate labels for different States.
Retailers who collect batteries for recycling may also have to
set up different programs depending on State requirements.
The Commerce Committee does not intend to establish this
bill as a precedent for preempting State laws or affecting the
enactment of State public health and environmental protections
that are more stringent than Federal standards. The Committee
does not intend to restrict the addition of wastes eligible for
regulation under the Universal Waste Rule.
H.R. 2024 is necessary because of a set of unique
circumstances which requires national uniformity and preemption
of State laws: (1) Battery manufacturers and manufacturers
whose products require the use of such batteries have
demonstrated a long-term commitment to protect the environment
and to improve public health through collection and recycling
capacity building, significant financial investments, and
encouraging retailer and consumer participation; (2) While the
batteries subject to Title I of H.R. 2024 can cause serious
environmental hazards when disposed of or incinerated in large
quantities, they will pose at most a de minimis environmental
and public health threat if removed from the solid waste stream
and managed in accordance with the requirements of the
Universal Waste Rule; and (3) Uniform national incentives to
create a voluntary recycling program will provide the
opportunity to considerably enhance public health and the
C. Support for legislation
The community to be regulated by H.R. 2024--battery
manufacturers, industries that use batteries in their consumer
products, and the retail industry--all strongly support the
The Oxley-Pallone-Klug amendment adopted at the Full
Committee markup is designed to address the concerns raised by
the EPA at the March 21, 1996, hearing on the bill. The amended
version of H.R. 2024 reported by the Committee on Commerce also
addresses issues raised by the Department of Justice, the
Federal Trade Commission, and the Office of the United States
A number of local government groups, including the U.S.
Conference of Mayors, and the National Conference of State
Legislatures are endorsing the bill.
D. Legislative history
In the 102nd Congress, battery legislation was approved by
the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate
Committee on Environment and Public Works, but did not move
further in either the House or the Senate.
In the 103rd Congress, battery legislation was paired with
legislation to reduce lead in various consumer items. The House
Subcommittee on Transportation and Hazardous Materials approved
H.R. 4882, legislation offered by Congressman Al Swift, for
Full Committee consideration by a voice vote. The Senate passed
similar legislation, S. 729, offered by Senator Reid, by a
nearly unanimous vote.
In the 104th Congress, the Senate passed S. 619,
legislation introduced by Senator Bob Smith, by a voice vote on
September 21, 1995. Congressman Scott Klug introduced H.R. 2024
on July 12, 1995 with Congressmen Gillmor, Bilirakis, Brown
(Ohio), Fields (Texas), Franks (Connecticut), Hastert,
Congresswoman Lincoln, Congressmen Manton, Pallone, Richardson,
Stearns, Tauzin and Congresswoman Thurman as original
The Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Hazardous
Materials held a legislative hearing on March 21, 1996.
Testimony was received from the following witnesses: Mr.
Michael Shapiro, Director, Office of Solid Waste, U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency; Mr. Jeff Bagby, Vice
President, Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation; Mr. Norm
England, President, Portable Battery Recycling Association; Mr.
Ray Balfour, Vice President, Rayovac Corporation; The Honorable
Randy Johnson, Commissioner, Board of Hennepin County
(Minnesota) Commissioners; and Mr. Ronald Parrish, Vice
President, Tandy Corporation.
On April 16, 1996, the Full Committee met in open markup
session to consider H.R. 2024, the Mercury-Containing and
Rechargeable Battery Management Act. By unanimous consent, the
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Hazardous Materials was
discharged from further consideration of the bill. The Full
Committee ordered H.R. 2024 reported to the House, as amended,
by a voice vote, a quorum being present.
Roll Call Votes
Clause 2(l)2(B) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires the Committee to list the recorded
votes on the motion to report legislation and amendments
thereto. There were no recorded votes taken in connection with
ordering H.R. 2024 reported or in adopting the amendment. The
voice votes taken in Committee are as follows:
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE--104TH CONGRESS VOICE VOTES
April 16, 1996
Bill: H.R. 2024, Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable
Battery Management Act.
Amendment: Amendment by Mr. Oxley to make various
clarifications to the existing legislation.
Disposition: Agreed To, by a voice vote.
Motion: Motion by Mr. Bliley to order H.R. 2024, as
amended, reported to the House.
Disposition: Agreed To, by a voice vote.
Committee Oversight Findings
Pursuant to clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, the Committee held a legislative
hearing and made findings that are reflected in this report.
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
Pursuant to clause 2(l)(3)(D) of rule XI of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, no oversight findings have been
submitted to the Committee by the Committee on Government
Reform and Oversight.
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures
In compliance with clause 2(l)(3)(B) of rule XI of the
Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee states
that H.R. 2024 would result in no new or increased budget
authority or tax expenditures or revenues.
Committee Cost Estimate
The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate prepared
by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to
section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
Congressional Budget Office Estimate
Pursuant to clause 2(l)(3)(C) of rule XI of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, the following is the cost
estimate provided by the Congressional Budget Office pursuant
to section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, April 19, 1996.
Hon. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr.,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
reviewed H.R. 2024, the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable
Battery Management Act, as ordered reported by the House
Committee on Commerce on April 16, 1995. CBO estimates that
this bill would not have a significant impact on the federal
budget, because it does not require any significant regulatory
actions that are not anticipated under current law. Because the
bill could affect receipts, pay-as-you-go procedures would
apply. However, CBO estimates that any change in receipts would
be insignificant. The bill would impose new intergovernmental
and private sector mandates, but those mandates would not
result in significant costs for state or local governments, and
would save money for the private sector.
H.R. 2024 would prohibit the sale of certain consumer
products with rechargeable batteries unless labeling
requirements specified in the bill are met. Under some
circumstances, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could
grant two-year exemptions from this requirement. Section 104
would exempt persons involved in the collection, storage,
transportation, and recycling or proper disposal of certain
rechargeable batteries from regulations governing hazardous
waste. In addition, title II would prohibit the sale of
batteries containing mercury that was intentionally introduced
during the manufacturing process.
Impact on the Federal budget
The bill would require EPA to enforce the provisions of
this bill, to provide information to the public concerning
proper handling and disposal of certain used rechargeable
batteries, and to respond to petitions from manufacturers for
exemption from the battery labeling requirements defined by
H.R. 2024. Based on information from the agency, we estimate
these activities would cost less than $500,000 annually.
Section 5 could increase governmental receipts by creating
new civil penalties under the provisions of the bill enforced
by the EPA. CBO estimates that any such increase would be less
than $500,000 annually.
Estimated impact on State and local governments
The bill contains intergovernmental mandates, as defined in
Public Law 104-4, that would preempt state and local laws
dealing with rechargeable batteries. CBO estimates that the
costs of these mandates would be minimal and would not exceed
the $50 million threshold establishes in the law. State and
local governments would likely realize lower battery disposal
costs as a result of this bill, but those savings would not
result from the mandates in the bill.
Section 103 of the bill would prohibit states or localities
from enforcing any requirements regarding the case of removal
or the environmental labeling of rechargeable batteries that
are not identical to the requirements in the bill. CBO
estimates that this preemption would not impose significant
costs on state and local governments.
Section 104 would exempt handlers of some types of
rechargeable batteries from certain hazardous waste
regulations. In providing this exemption, the section would
immediately preempt all similar state and local laws. States
would be allowed to implement and enforce their own
requirements only if EPA determined that those requirements
were identical to those of the federal government. Under
current law, states authorized to administer and enforce the
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) may adopt EPA's
universal waste rule of May 1995, which provides an exemption
to handlers of rechargeable batteries similar to the exemption
in this bill. Thus, CBO estimates that this preemption would
not impose significant costs on states and localities because
it would not significantly change their enforcement activities.
The bill would provide an immediate exemption from certain
regulations to handlers of rechargeable batteries. State and
local governments that use rechargeable batteries would begin
paying lower handling costs one to three years earlier than
under current law.
Impact on the private sector
This bill would impose mandates on the manufactures and
importers of regulated batteries, mercury-containing batteries,
and rechargeable consumer products. The mandates include
requirements governing labeling of batteries, elimination of
mercury in batteries, establishing and maintaining records of
the labeling and the mercury content of batteries, and
manufacturing rechargeable consumer products with an easily
removable battery or a battery that is sold separately.
Manufacturers and importers are unlikely to incur any
additional costs from these mandated because they either
currently comply with these requirements, or would likely
obtain an exemption.
Requirements for standard labels and reduced requirements
related to transporting certain batteries would save money for
the private sector. The labeling requirements would standardize
labels that are now required by a number of states. Because
individual states have different labeling requirements, the
federal standards would reduce costs for manufacturers. This
bill produces additional savings for the rechargeable battery
industry by loosening transportation restrictions of
rechargeable batteries. The rechargeable battery would no
longer be considered a hazardous material and thus could be
transported at lower cost as a nonhazardous substance.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Kim Cawley
(for federal costs), Pepper Santalucia (for state and local
impacts), and Jean Wooster (for private sector impacts).
Paul Van de Water,
(For June E. O'Neill, Director).
Inflationary Impact Statement
Pursuant to clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that the bill
would have no inflationary impact.
Advisory Committee Statement
No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b)
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act are created by this
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation
Section 1. Short title
Section 1 establishes the short title of the bill as the
``Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act.''
Section 2. Congressional Findings
Congress finds that it is in the public interest to phase
out mercury use in batteries and provide for efficient and
cost-effective collection and recycling or proper disposal of
certain batteries; that uniform national labeling of certain
batteries will significantly benefit recycling programs; and
that battery recycling programs are to be encouraged.
Section 3. Definitions
Section 3 defines the following terms used in the bill:
``Administrator,'' ``button cell,'' ``easily removable,''
``mercuric oxide battery,'' ``rechargeable battery,''
``rechargeable consumer product,'' ``regulated battery,'' and
The term ``rechargeable battery'' excludes lead acid
batteries used in vehicles and electric power generators;
rechargeable alkaline batteries (which are subject to section
203's mercury requirements); and batteries built into products
to deal with power failures and fluctuations. The paragraph
5(C)(iii) exemption and the product exemption in paragraph 6(B)
do not apply to external uninterruptible power supply devices
or their batteries.
Section 4. Information Dissemination
This section requires the Administrator to establish a
program to provide the public with information on the proper
handling and disposal of used batteries and rechargeable
consumer products with nonremovable batteries.
Section 5. Enforcement
This section provides civil enforcement authority to the
Administrator in cases where the Administrator determines that
a person has violated any requirement of the Act, except for
section 104, which is enforceable under the Solid Waste
Disposal Act. The Administrator may assess a civil penalty of
up to $10,000 for each violation. In addition, section 5(a)(2)
authorizes commencement of a civil judicial action for
noncompliance with any term or requirement of an administrative
order (including an order to pay a penalty) and may also
include additional injunctive or other relief, where
It restricts the Administrator's enforcement against
retailers for offering to the ultimate consumer for sale or
promotional purposes an unmodified battery or product governed
by the Act that was purchased ready for final sale, and sold,
offered for sale, or offered for promotional purposes. The
initial manufacturer of the battery or other persons who modify
or sell such batteries to a retailer can be prosecuted for
violations of this Act.
This provision is designed to promote retailers' voluntary
participation in recycling programs by protecting retailers
from prosecution for the sale of batteries that they purchase
from a person, such as a manufacturer, who violates the Act.
However, if the retailer is an importer who purchases batteries
from an overseas manufacturer who may not be within the
Administrator's enforcement reach, the legislation does not
protect that retailer simply because he obtained the batteries
abroad. For this reason, section 5(h) does not provide
enforcement protection for an importer selling a battery who
has knowledge that the battery he has obtained and is now
selling contains the materials described in sections 203, 204,
205, or 206.
Requiring that the importer have ``knowledge'' of the
contents of a battery is a standard that differs from civil
enforcement standards of some other environmental statutes.
Such an intent standard is adopted in this narrow circumstance
to encourage retailers to participate in recycling programs,
and because importers may be misled by foreign vendors from
whom the importers purchase batteries.
For the purposes of this Act, the term ``ultimate
consumer'' means a person who obtains a battery or product with
no intent to sell, and who does not sell, the battery or
product prior to use.
Section 6. Information Gathering and Access
Section 6 authorizes record keeping requirements for
battery manufacturers or their agents, and provides the
Administrator with information gathering authority on battery
collection and recycling.
Section 7. State Authority
This section preserves State authority to enact and enforce
standards and requirements more stringent than those
established under the Act, except as provided in sections
103(e) and 104. This section also makes clear that States are
entitled to adopt and enforce rules and regulations that are
identical to the requirements imposed by the Act.
Section 8. Authorization of Appropriations
Section 8 authorizes appropriation of such sums as are
necessary to implement the Act.
TITLE I--RECHARGEABLE BATTERY RECYCLING ACT
Section 101. Short Title
Section 101 establishes the short title of this title as
the ``Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act.'
Section 102. Purpose
Section 102 sets forth the purpose of the title as
facilitating efficient recycling of nickel-cadmium rechargeable
batteries, small sealed lead-acid rechargeable batteries, and
rechargeable batteries in consumer products, through uniform
labeling requirements, streamlined regulatory requirements for
regulated battery collection programs, and voluntary industry
programs by eliminating barriers to funding the collection and
recycling or proper disposal of used rechargeable batteries.
Section 103. Rechargeable Consumer Products and Labeling
Section 103 prohibits the sale for use in the United States
of a regulated battery or rechargeable consumer product
manufactured one year or more after the date of enactment
unless the section's labeling requirements are met and the
regulated battery is easily removable from the rechargeable
consumer product or sold separately.
The section's labeling requirements apply to regulated
batteries and rechargeable consumer products without easily
removable batteries. Each such product must bear the three
chasing arrows recycling sign and the phrase ``BATTERY MUST BE
RECYCLED OR DISPOSED OF PROPERLY'' (the exact language differs
depending on the type of battery).
To give retailers time to deplete their stocks of products
manufactured prior to the Act, the bill provides that products
labeled in substantial compliance with the Act are deemed to
comply with the labeling requirements.
The section also gives the Administrator authority to
certify that labels that convey substantially the same
information or conform with international labeling standards
comply with the Act; gives the Administrator the authority to
adopt similar labeling rules for battery chemistries not
covered by section 103 upon a finding that they may cause
substantial harm to human health and the environment if
discarded into the solid waste stream; prevents enforcement of
labeling or easy removability standards that differ from the
Act; and provides the Administrator with authority to exempt
manufacturers from the section's requirements under certain
Section 104. Requirements
This section states that certain batteries which when
discarded would otherwise be considered hazardous wastes--
including used rechargeable batteries, batteries described in
section 3(5)(C) or Title II, and used rechargeable consumer
products containing rechargeable batteries that are not easily
removable--shall be regulated in essentially the same manner as
batteries regulated under 40 CFR 273. That subpart is EPA's so-
called ``Universal Waste Rule,'' which provides comprehensive
regulation for the management of used batteries. With the
exception of mercuric oxide batteries, batteries described in
Title II are not hazardous wastes. Under the Universal Waste
Rule (40 CFR 273.2(b)), collection, storage, and transportation
of any batteries described in Title II which are not hazardous
wastes would not be subject to the Universal Waste Rule.
The section also provides that failure to comply with
subsection (a) of the section shall be subject to enforcement
under the Solid Waste Disposal Act. States may enforce the
requirements of subsection (a) if they have adopted
requirements identical to those in that subsection and provide
for their enforcement. This Act does not concern the disposal
of batteries or other products. The disposal of batteries and
other products covered by this Act is governed by the Solid
Waste Disposal Act and other laws.
TITLE II--MERCURY-CONTAINING BATTERY MANAGEMENT ACT
Section 201. Short Title
Section 201 establishes the short title of Title II as the
``Mercury-Containing Battery Management Act.''
Section 202. Purpose
Section 202 states the purpose of Title II as phasing out
the use of mercury in batteries.
Section 203. Limitations on the Sale of Alkaline-Manganese Batteries
Section 203 prohibits any person from selling alkaline-
manganese batteries manufactured after January 1, 1996, with an
intentionally introduced mercury content, except for alkaline-
manganese button cells, which may contain up to 25 milligrams
Section 204. Limitations on the Sale of Zinc-Carbon Batteries
Section 204 prohibits any person from selling zinc-carbon
batteries manufactured after January 1, 1996, with an
intentionally introduced mercury content.
Section 205. Limitations on the Sale of Button Cell Mercuric-Oxide
Section 205 prohibits any person from selling for use in
the United States button cell mercuric-oxide batteries
manufactured after January 1, 1996.
Section 206. Limitations on the Sale of Other Mercuric-Oxide Batteries
Section 206 prohibits any person or importer from selling
for use in the United States other mercuric-oxide batteries
unless the manufacturer identifies an approved domestic
collection site, and informs purchasers of the location of the
site and provides a telephone number for recycling information.
Section 207. New Product or Use
Section 207 authorizes the Administrator to exempt from
this title new products or uses for batteries described in this
bill, if reasonable safeguards exist that the battery will not
be disposed of in an incinerator or landfill other than a
facility regulated under subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal
Act. The 1984 amendments to the Solid Waste Disposal Act
prohibit the land disposal of hazardous wastes with two
significant options for legal disposal: (1) meet pretreatment
standards; or (2) place waste into a unit which has an approved
petition certifying that there will be no migration of
hazardous constituents for as long as the waste remains
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported
This legislation does not amend any Federal statute.