Motor vehicle battery recycling law, 2014 update

Motor vehicle battery recycling law, 2014 update

Lead-acid batteries, or "automotive type batteries," are found in cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and other devices with internal combustion engines. Under chapter 287.07(1m), Wis. Stats., it is illegal to burn or dispose of lead-acid batteries in Wisconsin. In 2014, the statute was officially updated.

Retailers, consumers and other handlers should use caution when storing or handling lead-acid batteries. If stored improperly, lead-acid batteries may leak or spill and cause lead and/or acid contamination of the soil and groundwater. They can also short out and cause a fire. Acid from leaking batteries can burn the eyes and skin. If recycled properly, the lead can be recovered for reuse.

Retailer battery recycling program

Lead-acid batteries are completely recyclable. Consumers may bring lead-acid batteries to any Wisconsin retailer that sells these batteries, during normal business hours, for recycling. This service is free to customers who purchase a new battery when they bring in a used one. Customers may be charged a fee of up to $3 if they bring in a used battery without purchasing a new one.

As of 2014, the law states that retailers must charge a deposit of $10 on the sale of an automotive type replacement battery, and must refund the deposit if the customer returns to the same retailer, at any location owned or operated by the retailer, with a used battery. The retailer may require proof that the consumer purchased a battery from the retailer.

The state recycling law requires battery retailers to post a sign stating that it is illegal to put lead-acid batteries in a landfill or incinerator and that automotive batteries are accepted for recycling on site. The sign must be 8.5 x 11 inches and be visible to customers.

Resources for retailers

Safe handling of lead-acid batteries

When handling a used lead-acid battery, use rubber gloves and eye protection and always wash hands immediately after handling the battery. Store used batteries in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area on a leak-proof surface or in a dry, well-ventilated area in a leak-proof container to protect against exposure and ensure that acid and lead will not leak into soil or groundwater. Do not short circuit battery terminals, or remove vent caps. Protect battery from physical damage. Sealed five-gallon plastic pails are adequate for storing a leaking or cracked battery.

Management of spent lead-acid batteries 

Chapter NR 666.080, Wis. Adm. Code states that “If you generate, collect, transport, store or regenerate lead-acid batteries for reclamation purposes, you may be exempt from certain hazardous waste management requirements,” and provides a table to determine which requirements apply to you, reproduced below. Alternatively, you may choose to manage your spent lead-acid batteries under the "Universal Waste" rule in ch. NR 673.