May 19, 2022

Lithium-Ion Battery Disposal and Recycling Reviewed

EPA hosted a two-part virtual workshop on October 5 and 19, 2021 to discuss best management practices for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Stakeholders from multiple sectors gathered and discussed solutions to prevent fires at end-of-life facilities and during transport. The primary solution to prevent fires was to educate the public. Specifically, consumers should be educated on not throwing LIBs in the trash, as well as where and how to properly dispose of them.

The workshop also explored methods to promote the recycling of LIBs. The recycling discussion began with suggestions for EPA to provide an exemption for waste LIBs from the hazardous waste regulations based on the battery’s state of charge. Another suggestion was to create a recycling exemption like the one for lead-acid battery recycling in Part 266, Subpart G. Clarifications were also requested on when a battery is considered waste, what activities are considered treatment, and applicable requirements when LIBs are remanufactured.

Another focal point of the workshop was managing LIBs under the Part 273 universal waste program. This program is a less stringent and more streamlined way to manage five common types of hazardous waste, including batteries. Stakeholders questioned if the universal waste program was adequate for managing LIBs and suggested different standards for electric vehicle and consumer LIBs. One suggestion was to clarify the applicability of the universal waste program to electric vehicle batteries that can be repaired/reused. Stakeholders also sought to clarify what types of facilities managing LIBs would be considered universal waste handlers versus destination facilities under Part 273.


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