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Frequently Asked Questions for Lead-Acid Battery Recycling

Q: When did this law go into effect?
A: This law was signed into law on May 17, 1990 and took effect on January 1, 1991.

Q: What types of batteries are required to be recycled?
A: Lead-acid batteries are the batteries commonly used in our cars, trucks, and recreational vehicles. If you have a dead battery, it is illegal to dispose of the battery in your trash. With use, these batteries run down and eventually die. If not properly handled, they can leak contaminants into soil and water.

Q: Where do I bring my used lead-acid battery for recycling?
A: You can give your used battery for recycling to a retailer at the time you purchase a new one or to any retailer of new lead-acid batteries.

Q: Is there a fee for lead-acid battery recycling?
A: The retailer will charge you a $5 "return incentive payment" if you do not return a used battery when buying a replacement. The retailer, who sold you the battery, will refund the $5 payment if you return a used battery within 30 days of the purchase date. Retailers can legally keep unredeemed payments.

Q: I am a distributor/retailer. What must I do?
A: You must accept, free of charge, up to two (2) used batteries per month from any individual. You must also post signs displaying the universal recycling symbol and state the following: "IT IS ILLEGAL TO DISCARD VEHICLE BATTERIES. STATE LAW REQUIRES US TO ACCEPT VEHICLE BATTERIES FREE OF CHARGE FOR RECYCLING". Additionally, you must charge a $5 "return incentive payment" to a consumer purchasing a new lead-acid battery if the consumer does not return a used lead-acid battery at the time of such purchase. You must refund the $5 to the consumer when they return the used lead-acid battery. This refund is only required within 30 days of the purchase of the new lead-acid battery.

Q. I am an on-line retailer selling lead-acid batteries that are covered by this law. I am not located in New York State, what do I need to do?
A. If you are an on-line retailer selling lead-acid batteries that are covered by this law, you need to provide the following information to NYS consumers:

Please recycle your used vehicle/boat lead-acid battery.

  • It is illegal to dispose of vehicle/boat lead-acid batteries in the trash.

  • Stores selling vehicle/boat lead-acid batteries must accept, free of charge, up to two used batteries per month from any individual.

  • Most metal scrap recyclers will accept vehicle/boat lead-acid batteries for recycling. Check your yellow pages for a location near you.

Q: What impacts does lead have on the environment?
A: The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) provides a wealth of information on lead's impact on the environment. A link to this information can be found on the right column of this page under the Links Leaving DEC's Website.

Q: What impacts does lead have on human health?
A: The elements found in lead-acid batteries can leach into soil and water or scatter as particles in the air if improperly managed. Lead is a neurotoxin that can be harmful to kidneys and the reproductive system. Even low level lead exposure can impair a child's mental development. More information on lead exposure and the impacts on human health can be found on the ATSDR Public Health Statement. A link to the statement can be found on the right column of this page under Links Leaving DEC's Website.

Q: What are the penalties for consumers?
A: Illegal disposal of lead-acid batteries by a consumer shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $50 for each violation.


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  • NYSDEC
    Division of Materials Management
    Bureau of Waste, Reduction & Recycling
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    Albany, NY 12233-7253
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