California Battery Bill Excludes Watch Retailers

Working with Jewelers of America, the American Watch Association has won an important victory in California, where proponents of a ban on mercury in daily products wanted watch sellers to set up a battery-collection program to recycle mercury-added button cells. Specifically, watch retailers would have been a primary target of bill AB 1125, now being considered in the California General Assembly.

Although watches themselves do not contain mercury, the silver-oxide button cells in many quartz analog and digital watches contain a trace amount of mercury to prevent corrosion of these airtight batteries.

AWA lobbyists were able to show the bill’s sponsor, Fran Pavley, that the great majority of watch batteries are already recycled, because retailers profit from the value of their silver content when sold to waste-management collectors. As a result, Pavley amended her legislation to exclude watch retailers under all or most circumstances, and the AWA dropped its opposition to AB 1125.