As of April 1, 2017, the “Lead Acid Battery Recycling Act” goes into effect, which requires that anyone, including a tow company, who sells lead-acid batteries in California (a “dealer”) collect a $1 California Battery Fee from a customer for each battery sold. The dealer must pay the collected fee to the California Board of Equalization (BOE), however, the dealer is allowed to retain 1.5% of the fee as reimbursement for any costs associated with the collection of the fee.

In order to remit the fee, a company would need to register and submit it through the BOE’s website. Click “New Registration” on the left-hand top corner on the BOE’s website to begin the process:

Additionally, the new Act requires that a dealer accept from a customer a used lead-acid battery for recycling and caps the number of batteries that can be returned by a customer at 6 per day. If a used battery is not exchanged for the new battery, the dealer must collect a refundable deposit, the amount of which must be displayed on a receipt. This refundable deposit shall be refunded to the customer if, within 45 days of the sale, the customer presents to the dealer a used battery of the same type and size. A dealer may keep any lead-acid battery deposit moneys that are not properly claimed within 45 days, not including any sales tax reimbursement charged to the consumer.

Further, a dealer shall post a written notice that is clearly visible in the public sales area of the establishment, or include on the purchaser’s receipt, the following language:

This dealer is required by law to charge a nonrefundable $1 California battery fee and a refundable deposit for each lead-acid battery purchased.

A credit of the same amount as the refundable deposit will be issued if a used lead-acid battery is returned at the time of purchase or up to 45 days later along with this dealer’s receipt.

Here’s a little more background info on AB 2153, the Lead-Acid Battery Recycling Act of 2016, by Assembly Member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). The bill is a reaction to the closing of the Exide Technologies battery recycling facility in Vernon, CA, which was forced to close and pay $7.7M to the state due to soil and groundwater contamination. Additionally, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has estimated that homes between 1.3 and 1.7 miles away from the facility may potentially be affected by Exide’s lead contamination (somewhere between 5,000 – 10,000 residential properties), with a cost of about $45,000 per home. This could result in the most extensive cleanup of its kind in California and will be among the largest cleanup ever conducted in the nation. On April 20, 2016, the Governor signed legislation appropriating a $176.6 million loan from the General Fund to the Toxic Substances Control Account to enable DTSC to test the area, but after this loan amount is expended, DTSC will likely need additional funds to do a complete and thorough cleanup. AB 2153 is intended to fill that gap while providing an ongoing source of funds to address future lead contamination from lead-acid batteries. The bill was supported by a wide range of groups including environmental groups, Battery Council International, the California Automotive Wholesalers’ Association, and the LA Board of Supervisors, amongst others, and was passed with a 2/3’s vote of the Legislature.