Rental Management recently spoke to Kris Kiser, president, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), Alexandria, Va., regarding the electrification of outdoor power equipment. Here is an edited version of that conversation.
Rental Management: What regulatory issues are you seeing? How does that differ between states or municipalities?
Kris Kiser: We are seeing increasing levels of regulatory activity at the municipal and state levels, especially as it relates to end-of-life management of batteries. In the U.S. currently three states have implemented Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations, which obligate manufacturers to fund and coordinate battery equipment recycling programs. Unfortunately, each state includes different metrics and even types of batteries that are included. OPEI continues to work with members, stakeholders and coalition partners to develop a harmonized nationwide approach.
Rental Management: Where and how should batteries be recycled or disposed of?
Kiser: The manufacturer is the best resource to determine how to manage brand-specific batteries at their end of life. Many brands partner with vendors like Call2Recycle®, call2recycle.org, which publishes a searchable map to find the nearest recycling location for business owners and consumers. OPEI also published an Industry Guidance Document which addresses options to recycle OPE batteries, which can be found at opei.org/battery-basics.
Rental Management: What should rental companies be aware of when storing equipment with batteries?
Kiser: Always be aware of and follow individual OEM recommendations in the owner’s manual, and make sure customers know how to operate and store the equipment, accessories, and batteries safely and in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. When battery packs are not in use, keep them away from other metal objects, like nails, screws or other small metal objects, which could make a connection from one terminal to another.
Rental Management: What do rental companies specifically need to know regarding transporting equipment with batteries?
Kiser: The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates transport of lithium-ion batteries for commercial purposes, and there are specific exceptions for commercial users such as landscapers, arborists, rental companies, and distributors when the total aggregate gross weight of all hazardous materials (i.e., batteries, gasoline cans, fertilizers) on the motor vehicle in commerce does not exceed a certain weight threshold. OPEI has published the latest OPEI Guidance Document which is available at opei.org/battery-basics.
Rental Management: Anything else rental companies should know or anything you would like to add?
Kiser: Again, make sure your customers and employees consult the owner’s manual for specific equipment operation and storage safety information. Use matched batteries and chargers, and always ensure your batteries and equipment are manufactured to safety standards. Standards and certifications are critical to ensure products are safe to use. As an ANSI-accredited Standard Development Organization, OPEI continues to work with members and industry partners to ensure consumers have access to the safest equipment.