LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis released the following statement after the Board voted in favor of her motion to direct Los Angeles County’s legislative advocates in Sacramento to support SB 289, which would expand convenient battery recycling options for County Residents while reducing the risk of fires caused by improperly disposed batteries and protect the health and safety of critical waste industry workers.

“Discarded batteries in California are classified as hazardous waste.  When improperly discarded, Li-ion batteries in particular pose serious fire, health and safety hazards.  Unfortunately, because of a combination of increased consumption and a lack of convenient disposal options, higher levels of toxic batteries are entering the waste stream.  As technology has advanced at a rapid rate, so has the environmental impact on our communities, resulting from a lack of proper disposal sites leaving residents with few safe and appropriate avenues to discard unwanted battery items.”

Resource Recycling Systems estimates that 75% to 92% of Li-ion batteries are discarded improperly.  Moreover, as a result of innovations in manufacturing and packaging, Li-ion batteries have become harder to distinguish from other battery types by the average consumer.  In a recent examination of a single Material Recovery Facility in California, 11 loose Li-ion batteries were found in the waste stream on average each hour, posing a serious fire risk.

Currently, California residents only have access to free collection of rechargeable batteries and cellphones. And in Los Angeles County, we collect over 75 tons of batteries each year through our household hazardous waste program. Roughly 12-14 tons are collected in kiosks placed at County libraries, at a cost of over $50,000 annually, so keeping harmful batteries from being improperly disposed can cost over $4,000 per ton to local governments.

SB 289, known as the Battery and Battery-Embedded Product Recycling and Fire Risk Reduction Act, authored by Senator Newman, would alleviate some of these costs to local governments by requiring producers to establish a stewardship program for batteries and battery-embedded products. This enforces accountability on companies that are creating products with batteries to ensure they do their part in keeping the environment safe by developing programs that make disposal of battery-embedded products accessible and feasible.

By supporting SB 289, we are committed to meeting LA County’s environmental sustainability goals and keeping our communities and workers safe.

To view the motion, click here.

CONTACT: Kimberly Ortega, Acting Communications Director, (213) 361-6435 or KOrtega@bos.lacounty.gov