The Texas House Environmental Regulation Committee will hear testimony on Tuesday morning about establishing a statewide program for recycling household batteries.
HB 1874 by Rep. Rodney Anderson (R-Grand Prairie) and Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Bellaire) would have all makers selling household-type batteries in Texas join a stewardship program for recycling those batteries. This successful model has helped Texas recycle 260 million pounds of electronics and should put a significant dent in the 250 million batteries trashed in the state every year.
“Landfilling batteries poses threats to our environment and wastes resources, it is time to use proven market-based solutions to stop trashing batteries and start recycling them,” Andrew Dobbs, Legislative Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment said.
WHAT: Texas House Environmental Regulation Committee testimony on battery recycling, HB 1874
WHEN: Tuesday, March 21, 8 AM
WHERE: Texas Capitol, E1.026
Batteries are classified as “universal waste” by the US Environmental Protection Agency, a form of waste that is hazardous but too widely generated to set strict regulations on their disposal. Chemicals used in both rechargeable and alkaline batteries have been detected as groundwater contaminants near Texas landfills, and the mining processes for these materials causes extensive environmental damage. Texans want to recycle their batteries to avoid these impacts and reduce waste, but to date the systems for recycling batteries are very limited.
Private, voluntary efforts are currently threatened by an overwhelming number of cheap, foreign-made batteries that do not participate in these programs. These “free riders” comprise as much as 40% of current battery recycling collections, and the result is that the most responsible companies are subsidizing the irresponsibility of their competitors. This has driven up battery recycling costs, and some communities are paying as much as $3000 a ton for battery recycling; landfilling costs closer to $25 a ton.
“There is a real risk that the battery recycling system we have today could fall apart altogether and even those lucky Texans with access to these programs will lose them soon,” Dobbs said. “This legislation will make the free riders do their part and provide a level playing field for all battery manufacturers, making recycling cheaper and easier for all Texans.”
HB 1874 is similar to legislation filed by Rep. Rodney Anderson in 2015 and enjoys bipartisan support from Anderson, Davis, fellow Republican Rick Miller (R-Houston) and Democrat Celia Israel (D-Austin). Tuesday’s meeting is the one chance Texans will have to speak out in public before the House has a chance to consider this important legislation.