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Know Your Batteries and Your Responsibilities

Applying to both Canada and the U.S., a recent survey sponsored by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) found that 85 percent of cordless power tools are powered by Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries. The other 15 percent of cordless power tools run on Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) and Small Sealed Lead (Pb) rechargeable batteries.
  • It is essential that contractors who use these types of cordless tools with rechargeable batteries know the legal responsibilities for their proper disposal. The RBRC survey found that 42 percent of people who owned a cordless power tool did not know that it was powered by a rechargeable battery pack. Due to concerns about the mishandling of used rechargeable batteries, many states and the Federal government have established restrictions on their disposal.
  • Under federal law, both Nickel Cadmium and Lead batteries are categorized as "hazardous wastes" when disposed of by businesses above certain quantities. Generally, handling of hazardous wastes requires considerable paperwork and cost. Recognizing the benefits of recycling, however, Federal law exempts these batteries that are sent for recycling from most hazardous waste obligations.
  • The Universal Waste Rule prohibits handlers (e.g. contractors) from disposing of used Nickel Cadmium and Lead batteries and further indicates that these batteries must be sent for recycling.
  • Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey and Vermont, have mandated that battery suppliers implement battery-collection programs.