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Post date: July 15 2004

Agreement To Halt Use Of Mercury Batteries

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement with the Kellogg Company to discontinue the use in its cereal products of promotional toys identified as a possible environmental risk. This agreement applies nationwide.

Under the agreement, the company will also take steps to ensure the recycling of a toxic component in the toys.

"Kellogg's decision to discontinue promotions of toys that contain mercury batteries and to help consumers recycle batteries in those toys should be followed by other companies," said Spitzer.

Kellogg, the world's leading cereal manufacturer, included a Spider-Man toy in boxes of Cocoa Krispies and other products. The toy is powered by a button cell battery containing mercury, a potent neurotoxin which, when released into the environment through improper disposal, can contaminate the air or groundwater. Hundreds of millions of button cell batteries are used in toys, watches, medical devices and other products.

As part of the nationwide agreement, Kellogg has agreed to:

  • Phase out sale or distribution of all promotional products containing mercury by September 30, 2004;
  • Provide consumers with a prepaid package to return promotional toys containing mercury;
  • Properly recycle the mercury batteries in the toys returned by consumers; and,
  • Educate consumers about the need to dispose of mercury properly by posting information on its website and setting up a nationwide toll-free number -- 1-800 -237-1132 -- that will explain the need for appropriate disposal. Kellogg will provide contact numbers and alert consumers about local programs for recycling batteries and similar material.

Approximately 17 million "Spidey-2 Signal" toys were involved in the cereal promotions. The toy attaches to a child's wrist and shines a beam with a pattern that looks like a spider's web.

Spitzer thanked Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, who first brought the matter to his attention. "I applaud the County Executive for his long-standing efforts to protect our children from mercury," Spitzer said.

He also commended Governor Pataki and the New York State Legislature for recently enacting a new mercury reduction law.

The agreement was handled by Environmental Protection Bureau Chief Peter Lehner.

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