In June of 1991, five major rechargeable battery manufacturers – Energizer, Panasonic Battery Corporation (Panasonic), SAFT America, SANYO Energy (U.S.A.) Corporation and Varta Batteries – established a nonprofit trade association, the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA).
A key focus for PRBA in the 1990’s was to respond to the growing need for workable battery recycling programs by developing plans that can be utilized industry wide. To that end, PRBA members established pilot battery recycling programs in New Jersey, Minnesota and Vermont. Based on the success of these pilot programs, PRBA developed a public education and battery recycling program to be implemented nationally. This program, now known as the Call2Recycle® program, is administered by the industry funded Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), an independent, nonprofit public service organization.
PRBA was actively involved in the drafting of the Universal Waste Rule (40 C.F.R. Part 273), which was finalized in April 1995. The rule reduced regulatory barriers to the collection of rechargeable batteries on a nationwide basis. In addition, PRBA represented the Rechargeable Power Industry with the active support of the Federal Battery Bill, also known as the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act, which was enacted by Congress in May 1996. The Act streamlines state regulatory requirements for collecting Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) rechargeable batteries and facilitates and encourages voluntary industry programs to recycle them.The Federal legislation removes previous barriers to Ni-Cd battery recycling programs resulting from individual state laws and regulatory restrictions governing the collection, recycling and transportation of these batteries and enables RBRC to implement its Call2Recycle® program in all 50 states. The program also operates throughout Canada.
In 2010 and 2011, PRBA organized a large coalition of consumer battery and battery-powered product manufacturers, airlines and other business interests and successfully challenged a controversial Department of Transportation rulemaking on lithium batteries. The coalition also was successful in securing a provision in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act 2012 signed by President Obama in February 2012 that ensures the U.S.lithium battery hazardous materials transportation regulations for air transport are harmonized with international standards. Harmonization of the U.S.hazardous materials regulations enhances trade and minimizes costs and other burdens of complying with multiple or inconsistent transportation regulations.
On a larger scale, the PRBA serves as the voice of the Rechargeable Power Industry, representing its members on legislative, regulatory and standards issues at the state, federal and international level. PRBA hosts an annual meeting and provides reports, newsletters and other information to keep its members informed of the latest activities and issues affecting the rechargeable power industry.
In 2009, PRBA changed its name to PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association to better reflect its work on a broad range of issues impacting manufacturers and users of large format lithium ion batteries and nickel metal hydride batteries.