Energy & Environment

State launches battery recycling program

Household batteries can now be dropped off for free at more than 100 locations, thanks to a new law that puts recycling responsibility in the hands of manufacturers.

Under Act 139, manufacturers that want to sell batteries in Vermont must create drop-off locations and outreach programs for consumers, and report back to the Agency of Natural Resources at the end of the year.

Twenty-six manufacturers from Amazon to Ace Hardware are approved by the state to produce and sell 80 different brands of batteries. The process is facilitated by Call2Recycle, a nonprofit headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Deb Markowitz, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, said the program is part of a national shift toward producer-centered responsibility. “We’re re-thinking what we do at the end of a product’s life,” she said. “It’s a different frame of thinking around ‘stuff’.”

If sent to a landfill, batteries can leach into the ground and get into the water supply; if burned, the metals are air pollutants. Over 650,000 pounds of batteries were sold in Vermont last year and only 6 percent were recycled, according to a press release from Call2Recycle.

Though the program will divert batteries from landfills, much of the benefit of recycling batteries comes from the metals that can be extracted from them.

“It makes sense to recycle batteries,” Markowitz said. “There’s a lot in them that can be re-used.”

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Cory Dawson

About Cory

Cory Dawson is VTDigger’s Burlington reporter. Before joining the VTDigger staff, Cory worked for the Associated Press, the Burlington Free Press, and served as editor-in-chief of The Vermont Cynic, the student newspaper of the University of Vermont, where he also earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. Before graduating in 2016, Cory worked as an intern at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and at VTDigger.

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