19
Dec
11

Should Australia Follow the Lead of New York Legislature & Make It Illegal To Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries?

Read about the groundbreaking new law in the United States, prohibiting the disposal of rechargeable batteries in the state of New York. Is this new law coming to Australia, and if so, would it be beneficial to the environment and economy?

According to TG Daily, New York law just went into effect that was passed over a year ago that makes it illegal to dispose of rechargeable batteries. Since rechargeable batteries were made to be recycled, and in doing so are better for the environment than typical alkaline batteries, the components that make up these batteries are harmful to the environment when they are not properly disposed of. Unfortunately, while more battery manufacturers are making this type of rechargeable battery, and more people are buying them, the disposal of them has remained the same as if they were using traditional single-use batteries. This, in turn, results in a good plan gone wrong and severe damage over time to the environment. While this in itself is bad, the question is should it be made illegal to toss the batteries in the trash in Australia?
The New York law that stipulates that rechargeable batteries being thrown away is illegal also includes the requirement of manufacturers to offer the ability to recycle through them for free. In addition, the punishment for improper disposal of rechargeable batteries is a graduated fine system – a smaller fine for the first offence, a doubled fine for the second, and a higher fine for the third. The big question about this law is how it will be imposed – how exactly will the government know if a person has thrown away a rechargeable battery? Will there be monitoring of trash on a regular basis to enforce the law? Or is it more of a scare tactic just to make citizens more aware of the consequences to the environment of improper disposal of these batteries?
While it is worthy of debate, would enacting a similar law in Australia make sense? If we were to follow suit and create stricter regulations of batteries that were designed to help the environment, but are actually harming it, would it be better to place more of the burden on the manufacturers – such as require that a discount be given on the next purchase when rechargeable batteries are returned? If the concern is actually for the environment, it may very well be a better idea to offer incentives for proper disposable instead of threats that are very hard to follow through with.
Whenever new laws like this go into effect, they often smack of politics and manipulation. Given the strong political lobby in the United States, one wonders if the entire motivation is an effort by disposable alkaline battery manufacturers like Duracell and Energizer to stem the tide of increased popularity in NiMH rechargeable battery brands like Sanyo Eneloop and Vapex. After all, it is scientific fact that the battery chemistry used in NiMH rechargeable batteries are far less toxic to the environment than the previous NiCD rechargeable batteries. And because NiMH rechargeable batteries last much longer than the average alkaline battery, it would seem strange that such a law would be enacted on NiMH — shouldn’t it be applied to alkaines instead?
Over the past few decades, Australia has taken drastic steps to be more eco-conscious. For this reason, it isn’t impossible to imagine that such a law will be considered in Australia at some point. We can only hope that our own government will ascertain how serious and earnest this new law in the United States is, and that it is truly motivated by environmental standards, and not just another corrupt way to line peoples’ pockets with money.
Whatever method Australia chooses to deal with this rampant problem all across the world, one thing is certain – we must determine a way to encourage more users to properly dispose of these batteries so that they can benefit the environment in the manner they were designed instead of causing harm.

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