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Battery Waste

Glass Recycler to Pay $1.2M Over Alleged Illegal Battery Disposal

DTSC found that Strategic Materials mismanaged batteries mixed in with the glass sorted from curbside recycling.

A Sacramento, Calif., glass recycler will pay $1.2 million to settle allegations that its Sacramento facility illegally disposed of more than 500,000 pounds of discarded batteries from homes and businesses, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced on July 30.

A DTSC investigation found that Strategic Materials Inc. had mismanaged batteries mixed in with the glass sorted from curbside recycling, sending the batteries to a municipal landfill instead of managing them as hazardous waste.

“Without exception, all recyclers must follow the law so that we can protect the public and our environment,” said Meredith Williams, acting director of DTSC, in a statement. “This settlement helps ensure hazardous materials are managed properly in California.”

Under the terms of the settlement reached in Sacramento County Superior Court, Strategic Materials will pay $900,000 to DTSC in civil penalties; spend $253,000 to implement more protective measures, including onsite improvements; and provide $47,000 toward a Supplemental Environmental Project to develop hazardous waste training programs related to the proper management of universal waste.

In May 2015, DTSC inspectors went to the recycler’s Sacramento facility to investigate whether it was processing unrecyclable cathode ray tube and other leaded glass as recyclable glass. While they found no evidence of lead-laden glass, they discovered violations related to the disposal of the discarded batteries from the site over the previous five years.

All batteries are considered hazardous waste in California when they are discarded. They must be taken to a universal waste facility or an authorized recycling facility, according to DTSC.

Strategic Materials converts recyclable glass into glass that is ready to be molded into other uses. The company disputes DTSC’s findings but agreed to the settlement, according to a DTSC press release.

Strategic Materials reached out to Waste360 and provided the following comments:

  • The company has been operational in Sacramento, Calif., for more than 30 years, and its largest customer for that facility is Gallo Glass.
  • The company believes the estimates DTSC included in its release regarding the volumes of discarded batteries at Strategic Materials' Sacramento facility is orders of magnitude too high.
  • The company has fully cooperated with DTSC since it first raised concerns, and it has been fully compliant with California Law long before a complaint was filed. Although Strategic Materials has agreed to voluntarily settle the matter, the company has not admitted to any of the allegations or claims made in the complaint. 
  • Even though Strategic Materials had robust compliance programs underway at its facilities to manage battery handling and recycling nationally, working with DTSC allowed it to develop an improved program to better address DTSC’s concerns, while continuing to efficiently recycle glass and provide high-quality recycled content to its customers. 
  • Further, in collaboration with the DTSC, the company trained materials recovery facilities in the state on battery sortation, handling and recycling practices. These efforts dramatically reduced the number of batteries coming into the facility, and the few batteries that it does receive are separated and properly recycled. Working with DTSC on this matter fits perfectly into the company’s operational goals, so it's pleased to have this resolved and in practice today.
  • The company remains committed to environmental stewardship and improvement at its facilities through innovation and continuous improvement efforts. It has been and will continue to be a partner to cleaner, more efficient glass production while providing suppliers economical and environmentally viable solutions for reuse of glass in waste streams. 

The Sacramento Bee has more details:

A glass recycling company will pay $1.2 million in a settlement made with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control over allegations of illegal waste removal at its Sacramento site.

Strategic Materials Inc. settled with the state regulator after it alleged the company had illegally disposed of more than 500,000 pounds of discarded batteries, according to a DTSC news release.

Read the full article here.

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