Industry Stewards: The Hidden Benefactors of Battery Recycling

The Oxford Dictionary defines a steward as ‘a person employed to manage another’s property.’

generic marketing seal 800At Call2Recycle, we define our industry stewards as the battery and product manufacturers that fund the recycling activities of Call2Recycle, including collection and public education. These responsible companies have a strong commitment to the environment and trust Call2Recycle to serve as its turnkey battery management solution to ensure that the batteries or products containing batteries introduced into the marketplace are responsibly recycled when they reach their end of life. Thanks to their support, consumers, businesses and government agencies have been able to recycle their batteries in North America at no cost for the past 20 years.

Industry Stewards Save the Day

To understand the importance of industry stewards in our operations, we have to travel back to 1994, when Call2Recycle was founded. The 1996 Battery Act, which required all 50 states to adhere to the Universal Waste Rule for the handling of rechargeable batteries, was waiting to be signed into law. In anticipation of the new regulations, leading battery manufacturers formed theRechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation(RBRC) (now called Call2Recycle, Inc.) to set up a collection program for the proper recycling of rechargeable batteries in the U.S.

The new organization designed a public, no-cost, voluntary recycling program that would meet Battery Act requirements and address the patchwork of state legislation. One of its first challenges was funding. A Battery Seal program was developed. In return for licensee fees, businesses could use the Battery Seal on rechargeable batteries and/or battery-powered products.

License fees would be based on the type, weight and units of batteries they sold. The fees would be used to pay the costs to collect and responsibly recycle used rechargeable batteries up to 11 lbs. (5 kg) and to start a nationwide public education program. The program was expanded in 1997 to Canada.

The concept of Call2Recycle industry stewards was born. Companies could actively demonstrate their commitment to the environment and meet Battery Act requirements by voluntarily participating in the recycling program.

Benefits of Stewardship

Industry stewardship offered battery and product manufacturers many other benefits. The most obvious was environmental. Stewards could take an active role in keeping the batteries out of the solid waste stream and recycling them so their by-products could be used in other products. Stewards also benefitted from Call2Recycle’s commitment to properly managing and recycling batteries to the highest standards of responsible recycling. This includes following recycling practices defined in the Responsible Recycling® (R2) certification program and complying with the Basel treaty ban on exports as an e-steward. The responsible recycling strategy assured industry stewards that they wouldn’t need to worry about the risks associated with landfilling, reselling on the black market or shipping battery waste overseas.

Another key benefit was regulatory.The Call2Recycle program helped battery and product manufacturers comply with extensive state, provincial and federal regulations, such as The Battery Act. Call2Recycle compiled and submitted recycling reports to regulatory bodies–including those in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec–as required by their regulations. Stewards benefitted from the efficiencies of managing various regulatory requirements through one single program.

Last, participating stewards could rely on Call2Recycle’s expertise. Call2Recycle kept them up to date on changes in the battery recycling industry and Call2Recycle programs. They didn’t need internal experts; they could rely on Call2Recycle as a central solution for battery recycling across North America.

Two Decades of Industry Stewardship

The industry steward concept has remained virtually the same for the past 20 years. The biggest change has been the growth–from the original five industry stewards in 1994 to 225 today. The Call2Recycle list of stewards features the leading battery and electronics manufacturers in the world. Their participation reinforces the importance of battery recycling in the marketplace as a mechanism for keeping batteries out of landfills and turning their by-products into new products. After two decades, Call2Recycle’s battery program in North America still thrives in its mission to help manufacturers translate their corporate recycling goals from words into action.

Call2Recycle® is a product stewardship program providing no-cost battery and cellphone recycling solutions across the U.S. and Canada. Operated by Call2Recycle, Inc., a 501(c)4 nonprofit public service organization, the program is funded by battery and product manufacturers committed to responsible recycling.