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Interpretation Response #15-0008 ([Recology San Francisco] [Mr. Billy Puk])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Recology San Francisco

Individual Name: Mr. Billy Puk

Location State: CA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 8, 2015

Mr. Billy Puk
HHW Collection Facility & Operations Manager
Recology San Francisco
501 Tunnel Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94134

Reference No. 15-0008

Dear Mr. Puk:

This is in response to your January 13, 2015 e-mail requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to the collection, processing, and transportation of batteries of mixed chemistries (alkaline, nickel-cadmium, primary and rechargeable lithium batteries).  You ask several questions related to the shipment of lithium batteries and your questions are paraphrased and answered as follows:  

Q1. Does the proper shipping name “lithium metal batteries” mean exclusively primary and non-rechargeable lithium batteries?  If not please provide examples.  

A1. For the purposes of the HMR, the term lithium metal cell or battery as defined by § 171.8 means “an electrochemical cell or battery utilizing lithium metal or lithium alloys as the anode. The lithium content of a lithium metal or lithium alloy cell or battery is measured when the cell or battery is in an undischarged state. The lithium content of a lithium metal or lithium alloy battery is the sum of the grams of lithium content contained in the component cells of the battery.”  The determination as to if a battery is a lithium metal battery or a lithium ion battery is based on the chemical makeup of the battery itself and cannot be solely determined by knowing if a battery is rechargeable or not.  Most lithium metal batteries manufactured today are not rechargeable, however rechargeable lithium metal battery technology does exist and these batteries are currently manufactured.  This office does not provide examples or references to a particular battery model or manufacturer.

Q2. Does the proper shipping name “lithium ion batteries” mean exclusively rechargeable lithium batteries?  If not please provide examples.

A2. The term lithium ion cell or battery as defined by § 171.8 means “a rechargeable electrochemical cell or battery in which the positive and negative electrodes are both lithium compounds constructed with no metallic lithium in either electrode. A lithium ion polymer cell or battery that uses lithium ion chemistries, as described herein, is regulated as a lithium ion cell or battery.”  Irrespective of the term rechargeable in the definition above, and as mentioned in A1 above, the determination as to if a battery is a lithium metal battery or a lithium ion battery is based on the chemical makeup of the battery itself and cannot be solely determined by knowing if a battery is rechargeable or not.   Most lithium ion batteries manufactured today are rechargeable, however non-rechargeable lithium ion battery technology does exist and these batteries are currently manufactured.  This office does not provide examples or references to a particular battery model or manufacturer.

You further raise several questions as they relate to a previous letter of interpretation issued by this office (Ref. No. 09-0289) regarding exceptions applicable to household waste.  Your questions are paraphrased and answered as follows:

Q3. Do batteries that have been turned in by residents at various battery drop-off points that are further transported to a household hazardous waste collection facility (HHWCF) by a government contractor qualify for the household waste exceptions provided in § 173.12(g)?

A3.  No.  The exceptions in § 173.12(g) do not apply to the transportation of a consolidated household hazardous waste shipment from a collection center by a commercial carrier. The definition of “Household waste” in § 171.8 further defines collection centers as “a central location where household waste is collected.”  Battery drop-off points are considered collection centers.  

Q4.  Do batteries collected from a HHWCF and transported to various battery recycling facilities qualify for the household waste exceptions provided in § 173.12(g)?

A4.  No.  The exceptions in § 173.12(g) do not apply to the transportation of a consolidated household hazardous waste shipment from a collection center by a commercial carrier. The definition of “Household waste” in § 171.8 further defines collection centers as “a central location where household waste is collected.”

I trust this information is helpful.  If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact this office.

Sincerely,

Duane A. Pfund
International Standards Coordinator
Standards and Rulemaking Division

171.8, 173.12(g)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
173.12 Exceptions for shipment of waste materials