Coming off a year of record battery collections, Call2Recycle is now looking to expand consumer take-back points and move into more markets.
That’s according to the nonprofit battery stewardship organization’s annual report, which looked both backward and forward.
In 2014, the industry-funded group oversaw the collection of nearly 6,000 tons of batteries and cell phones in the U.S. and Canada, a record collection total for Call2Recycle. The record comes despite a general decrease in the size and weight of batteries. Last year, the group also hit a milestone: collection of 50,000 tons over the effort’s 20 years in existence.
The group also welcomed more than 30 new battery and product manufacturers in 2014, minimizing the number of “freeriders,” or manufacturers whose batteries are recycled but don’t help pay for take-back and recycling. By the end of the year, it saw participation from manufacturers of 85 percent of the portable rechargeable power industry.
Not all was good news for the group. In December, Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) rejected Call2Recycle’s application to take over single-use battery collection and recycling in Canada’s most populous province. Among other reasons cited, WDO “determined that the plan as proposed by Call2Recycle had the potential to cause significant impacts on the single-use battery post-collection marketplace.” The decision left single-use battery take-back in the hands of industry-funded group Stewardship Ontario, while Call2Recycle continues to provide take-back and recycling for rechargeable batteries in the province.
Still, Call2Recycle sees change on the horizon. “Looking ahead, we are facing a changing landscape driven by the explosive growth of mobile devices and the increasing demand for end-of-life disposal of all consumer portable batteries (both rechargeable and alkaline),” Call2Recycle CEO Carl Smith wrote in the report.
The group will focus on improving consumers’ options for recycling batteries (currently, most of the collected material comes from businesses). An estimated 90 percent of U.S. and Canadian households live within 10 miles of a take-back location; Call2Recycle wants to improve that to 95 percent.
The group will also enter new markets, including offering a single-use battery take-back program in Vermont starting in 2016, Smith wrote. Vermont is the first U.S. state to implement extended-producer responsibility for single-use batteries, and Call2Recycle has applied to manage collections and recycling on behalf of several manufacturers.