Recycling of lead acid batteries is required under Section 15.10 of Pennsylvania`s "Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act," Act 101 of 1988.*
Lead acid batteries, commonly used in vehicles, can create disposal problems. Landfilling presents the risk of groundwater contamination. With incineration, the risk is toxic air emissions. Given present disposal options, recycling is the only safe solution. Recycling these batteries not only conserves natural resources and energy, it reduces risks to human health and the environment.
(a) Certain disposal prohibited. No person may place a used lead acid battery in mixed municipal solid waste, discard or otherwise dispose of a lead acid battery except by delivery to an automotive battery retailer or wholesaler, to a secondary lead smelter permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency, or a collection or recycling facility authorized under the laws of this Commonwealth.
(b) Disposal by dealers. No automotive battery retailer shall dispose of a used lead acid battery except by delivery to a secondary lead smelter permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency, or to a collection or recycling facility authorized under the laws of this Commonwealth, or to the agent of a battery manufacturer or wholesaler for delivery to a secondary lead smelter permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency, or a collection or recycling facility authorized under the laws of this Commonwealth.
(c) Collection for recycling. Any person selling or offering for sale at retail lead acid batteries shall:
(1) Accept, at the point of transfer, in a quantity at least equal to the number purchased, used lead acid batteries from customers in exchange for new batteries purchased.**
(2) Post written notice which must be at least 8½ inches by 11 inches in size and must contain the universal recycling symbol and the following language:
(i) "It is illegal to discard a motor vehicle or other lead acid battery."
(ii) "Recycle your used batteries."
(iii) "State law requires us to accept used motor vehicle or other lead acid batteries for recycling, in exchange for new batteries purchased."
(d) Lead acid battery wholesalers. Any person selling new lead acid batteries at wholesale shall accept, at the point of transfer, used lead acid batteries from customers in a quantity at least equal to the number purchased. A person accepting batteries in transfer from an automotive battery retailer shall be allowed a period not to exceed 90 days to remove batteries from the retail point of collection.***
(e) Inspection of automotive battery retailers. The Department shall produce, print and distribute the notices required by subsection (c) to all places where lead acid batteries are offered for sale at retail. The Department may inspect any place, building or premises governed by this act. Authorized employees of the Department may issue warnings and citations to persons who fail to comply with the requirements of this section. Failure to post the required notice following warning shall subject a civil penalty of $25 per day, collectible by the Department.
* Copies of Act 101 and other Commonwealth laws may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau. Telephone (717) 787-7385.
** It is not necessary to exchange a used battery in order to purchase a new one.
*** Persons storing or transporting scrap lead acid batteries are not subject to hazardous waste regulations providing that the batteries remain whole and intact.
Used lead acid batteries must be stored properly to prevent contamination or injury from acid spillage or leakage. Indoor storage is recommended because it reduces risks from temperature extremes which cause batteries to crack and leak. An indoor storage facility has at least three walls and a roof permanently attached to a masonry or other floor. An acid-resistant coating, such as epoxy, may be applied to an asphalt or concrete floor to prevent corrosion from spillage. Acid-resistant curbing should be constructed around the storage area to contain any spills that escape the building. Curbs for small storage areas could be constructed of either asphalt or a simple wooden frame completely covered with a 20-40 mil sheet of acid-resistant polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyvinyl chloride.
Batteries should be placed upright on pallets, stacked no more than five high, and inspected regularly. Cracked or leaking batteries may be placed singly in sealable 5 gallon polypropylene pails or other containers that are sturdy, acid-resistant, leak-proof and sealable, and kept closed within the storage area.
Any spilled acid must be handled as a hazardous waste because it is corrosive and may contain toxic levels of lead. Report any spills that escape the storage area to your DEP regional office.
Any questions may be directed to the recycling coordinator in your DEP regional office or to the Division of Waste Minimization and Planning at (717) 787-7382. Signs for retail establishments that meet the requirements of §15.10(c)(2) are available upon request.
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Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Land Recycling and Waste Management
Dvision of Waste Minimization and Planning
Recycling and Markets Section
PO Box 8472
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8472
Hotline Number in Pennsylvania only: 800-346-4242
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