Bill charges Illinois battery producers to implement recycling programs

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(The Center Square) – A measure mandating battery producers pay a $100,000 annual fee to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency so the agency can create battery collection sites for disposal or recycling is ready to be sent to the governor.

State Rep. Sharon Chung, D-Bloomington, carried Senate Bill 3686 in the House and fielded questions from Republicans, who said consumers will ultimately be hit with additional costs so producers can pay their fees to the EPA. State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, asked Chung what the EPA will do with the fees.

“What the battery stewardship program is doing … it’s creating collection sites. If you are purchasing batteries and you want to be able to safely dispose of the battery at the end of its lifecycle, then you can take it to these collection sites,” said Chung. “The producers are all coming together so that way we can sustainably and safely be able to reuse batteries at the end of their lifecycle.”

Sellers and distributors, under the proposed legislation, are mandated to create a small- to medium-sized battery recycling program by 2026. By 2029, businesses must include appropriate labeling for all batteries to ensure proper collection and recycling. Halbrook looked for a breakdown on how the IEPA plans to utilize the fees paid to them.

“We’re all about the process … who creates these collection sites, how are they funded? How does this work? Is there an assessment to manufacturers, retailers and distributors on how this thing is funded?” asked Halbrook.

Chung replied the fees are used to “implement the program.”

Sponsors of the bill say it makes sure that battery distributors are responsible for the batteries they sell from beginning to end, and that communities have the education and systems needed to safely dispose of or recycle their batteries.

Chemicals and pollutants found in many types of batteries make their improper disposal a risk of pollution, Chung said.

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Harrisburg, asked how the $100,000 fee producers have to pay to create a battery stewardship program was established.

“In the bill, it says the annual fee is for IEPA to administer the act. Did the IEPA indicate that the $100,000 per organization is what they needed? How was that dollar figure arrived at as an appropriate fee?” asked Windhorst.

Chung told Windhorst that special interest groups like Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association were involved when determining the fee battery producers would have to pay.

“You know what, I’m not entirely sure, but I do know there were many months of negotiations with all the stakeholders involved. This is just the fee everyone involved thought this would be appropriate for the program,” said Chung.

If a battery producer, retailer or seller doesn’t comply, then that producer, seller or distributor could be subject to a civil penalty per violation of up to $7,000 enforced by the IEPA.

State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, carried the bill in the Senate and said this measure begins a much-needed detailed plan for battery recycling. The bill can now be sent to the governor for further action.

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