OLYMPIA — Battery producers would be required to fund and participate in a statewide stewardship program to boost recycling rates, under legislation passed today by the Washington State Senate.

Senate Bill 5144, sponsored by Sen. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell), would require battery producers to take responsibility for increasing recycling rates, promoting safe disposal, and reducing waste.

“We know that the use of batteries will continue to increase and it’s urgent we take action to ensure these products containing hazardous materials don’t continue to pile up in our landfills or other places they can cause health and safety concerns,” said Sen. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell).

Under the bill, cities and counties would get relief from some of the costs of battery collection. The legislation is also intended to reduce the danger of fires caused by rechargeable batteries in garbage trucks and waste transfer stations.

The stewardship program would be similar to other state-wide programs launched in recent years to collect and recycle paint, electronic products, photovoltaic solar panels, and light bulbs containing mercury.

“Used batteries often contain rare metals and chemicals that can be reused in new products while reducing extractive mining,” Stanford said. “And by requiring producers to be responsible, we will encourage them to design longer lasting batteries and move us one step closer to a circular economy,” Stanford said.

Another element of the legislation would require battery producers to conduct educational outreach, so Washington consumers are informed about battery recycling options. The program would also require drop-off sites to be distributed regionally throughout the state, improving access for rural communities.

Currently, the state administers a voluntary rechargeable battery recycling program to help prevent people from putting batteries in the trash, but the drop-off sites are limited to select transfer stations and a handful of retailers like Staples and Home Depot.

The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives for consideration.