Office Depot Launches Free Cell Phone and Rechargeable Battery Recycling Program

DELRAY BEACH, December 21, 2004 – Buying or receiving a new cellphone this holiday season, but not sure of what to do with your old one? Recycle it—and do something good for the environment!
Office Depot now offers consumers a convenient and cost-free method for recycling old cellphones and rechargeable batteries.

Partnering with the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), a nonprofit, public service organization dedicated to recycling rechargeable batteries and cellphones, Office Depot is now collecting used phones and rechargeable batteries for recycling at all 960 Office Depot locations in the U.S. and Canada.

“Office Depot sells Sprint, Nextel and T-Mobile wireless products and services, as well as a large variety of other electronics and business machines that use rechargeable batteries,” said Tyler Elm, Director of Environmental Affairs for Office Depot. “The holiday season is the perfect time to introduce our free, in-store cellphone and rechargeable battery recycling program as many consumers are looking to upgrade to the latest technologies. We urge consumers to make the smart choice by bringing their old cellphones and rechargeable batteries to Office Depot for free recycling and safe disposal during this purchase process.”

Office Depot will collect (free of charge) all old cellphones and used rechargeable batteries for recycling, including Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion), and Small Sealed Lead (Pb) weighing less than 2 lbs/1 kg. These batteries are also commonly found in other portable office electronics products including cordless phones, laptop computers, PDAs, digital cameras, and portable printers.

While rechargeable batteries reduce waste by being reused again and again – replacing between 50 to 300 single-use disposal batteries – they contain potentially harmful chemicals and should be safely disposed of at your local Office Depot store instead of in normal household trash.

“We are pleased that Office Depot has decided to integrate RBRC’s battery and cellphone recycling program into its stores,” said Ralph Millard, Executive Vice President, RBRC. “It’s partnerships like these that have greatly increased our efforts to recycle as many rechargeable batteries and cellphones as possible nationwide.”

All rechargeable batteries collected in partnership with RBRC are recycled in a state-of-the art metals reclamation facility in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, with no by-products being sent to a landfill. Nickel and iron recovered from batteries are used in the production of stainless steel; cadmium is purified and used in Ni-Cd rechargeable batteries. Cell phones are refurbished, recycled or resold when possible. A portion of the proceeds received from the resale benefits select charities, such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Cell Phone and Battery Facts

According to research and industry studies:

  • By 2005, roughly 200 million cellphones will be in use in the U.S., and approximately 130 million phones will be retired each year.*
  • A total of 500 million used cellphones weighing more than 250,000 tons are estimated to be currently stockpiled, awaiting disposal.*
  • Cell phones contain hazardous substances, which can pollute the air when burned in incinerators and leach into soil and drinking water when buried in landfills.*
  • The average American cellphone user has a total of three or more cellphones in their possession.**
  • More than 56% of the American population still stores their old cellphones and over 70% are not aware that cellphones can be recycled.**
  • 95% of Americans own at least one type of cordless product powered by rechargeable batteries. Americans use an average of five cordless products in their daily lives.***
  • Since 1996, more than 25 million pounds of rechargeable batteries have been collected by RBRC and diverted from entering the solid waste stream. That’s equivalent to the weight of approximately 1,260 yellow school buses. ***

* Conducted by environmental nonprofit INFORM, Inc.
** Conducted by market research firm NOP World
*** RBRC

“With such a high level of product turnover, we think our customers will appreciate Office Depot’s convenient, long-term solution for recycling old cellphones and rechargeable batteries,” Elm said. “We are happy to have a partner like RBRC to make this environmental service a reality.”

Office Depot Electronics Recycling

Office Depot’s cellphone and battery recycling program is one of the many initiatives the retailer has undertaken to promote environmental stewardship. In July 2004, Office Depot launched the first free nationwide electronics recycling drive. The seven-week program at all of Office Depot’s U.S. locations, collected more than 10.5 million pounds unwanted consumer electronics – more than 450 tractor trailer loads – for recycling.

This was the largest single electronics recycling event in U.S. history with Office Depot collecting nearly 5,000 cellphones and more than 320,000 other consumer electronics during the drive, many of which used a rechargeable power source.

Other environmental initiatives by Office Depot, including the Industry’s first independently audited Environmental Stewardship Report, can be viewed at www.officedepot.com/environment.

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About Office Depot
Office Depot’s environmental initiatives center on three guiding principles: Recycling and Pollution Reduction; Sustainable Forest Management; and Issue Awareness and Market Development for environmentally preferable products. Office Depot was honored with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Corporate Stewardship Award for Large Companies in 2004, which recognizes businesses and chambers that have demonstrated ethical leadership and corporate stewardship. Office Depot is already the largest reseller of recycled paper and recycled content products. In addition to the company’s industry-leading 35% post consumer waste content paper, Office Depot offers thousands of different products containing recycled content and added new products including 100% post consumer waste content papers during 2003.

With annual sales of more than $12 billion, no one sells more office supplies to more customers in more countries than Office Depot. Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Delray Beach, Fla., the company conducts business in 23 countries and employs nearly 50,000 people worldwide.
Office Depot is a leader in every distribution channel – from retail stores and contract delivery to catalogs and e-commerce. The company is the world’s number three online retailer – on track to generate $3B in sales for FY’04. In North America, Office Depot has 923 retail stores in addition to a national business-to-business delivery network supported by 22 delivery centers, more than 60 local sales offices and 13 regional call centers.

The company’s common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ODP and is included in the S&P 500 Index. Additional press information can be found at: http://mediarelations.officedepot.com.

About Call2Recycle®
Call2Recycle is the industry’s first and only product stewardship program for rechargeable batteries. The nonprofit program is administered by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), a public service organization dedicated to rechargeable battery recycling. There are more than 30,000 Call2Recycle drop-off locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. More than 175 manufacturers and marketers of portable rechargeable batteries and products show their commitment to conserve natural resources and prevent rechargeable batteries from entering the solid waste stream by funding the Call2Recycle program. In pursuit of its mission, Call2Recycle also collects old cellphones, which are either recycled or refurbished and resold when possible with a portion of the proceeds benefiting select charities. For more information, call 877-2-RECYCLE or visit test.us.call2recycle.org.

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